"The mission of the Pole Pole Foundation is to work with local communities to improve their prospects and ensure the long term conservation of the Eastern Lowland Grauer's gorilla."
We involve local communities in projects promoting the long term protection and conservation of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP), in order to reduce human pressures on the park and its resources, and improve the standard of living for the communities which surround it.
Our logo depicts the fauna and flora of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, along with the people who live alongside. This represents the harmonious co-existence of nature and people.
This beautiful logo was designed by Rick Murphy, our member of honour.
THE APPROACH OF POPOF IN THE FIELD
To achieve our goals, we work with local communities. There is a Congolese saying, "Empty stomachs have no ears." Which expresses perfectly the need to take a holistic approach to conservation in the area. In order to stop people entering the park for illegal activities, the Pole Pole Foundation:-
- • Provides people with education and skills training to increase their employment opportunities.
- • Offers environmental education programs to raise awareness of the global importance of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park and its resources.
Despite hard times caused by wars in the Great Lakes Region since 1990, and particularly in the D R Congo since 1996, the people of POPOF have not just stood by.
We have worked hard for a better future and POPOF has contributed much to local communities around the KBNP through the following initiatives:-
- • Education is at the heart of everything that POPOF does. Kindergarten, primary and secondary schools were established in 1999 where conservation and environmental awareness is taught from a young age.
- • Afforestation - a huge tree planting project is underway, creating a buffer zone between the Park and the local communities, saving pristine rainforest from being cut, and providing sustainable resources for local use. The growing of fruit trees for locals is also included.
- • Training pygmy women who had been poachers to use sewing machines and become seamstresses.
- • Spriulina project - spirulina is a highly-nutritious algae which is used as a food supplement and is proving particularly useful in the treatment of malnutrition in children.
- • Mushroom Growing Cooperative which provides nutritious produce and surplus to sell for income.
- • Community Tourism - giving local people the opportunity to go into the Park and visit the gorillas for themselves. This project helps local communities to feel involved and invested in the protection of these beautiful animals.
- • Vegan Club (VADRC) inspiring plant-based diet which stops the eating of bushmeat.
All of these activities aim to improve the quality of life of the people living around the KBNP, and encourage them to participate actively in the conservation of their beautiful region and its natural resources.
There is still much that the Pole Pole Foundation wishes to do. Projects in development, depending on funding, include:-
- • A food exchange system between the six tribes living around the KBNP.
- • The construction of a visitors’ centre and campsite to welcome tourists from all over the world who wish to visit the gorillas and learn about POPOF’s work.
- • Promotion of house-building with fired bricks instead of wood to save local resources.
- • Bee-keeping opportunities for local women to provide nutrition and produce to sell at market.
- • Refurbishment of school classrooms.
- • Provision of proper sanitation at the schools.
- • Provision of solar powered lighting at the schools and within the community.
- • Investigate the failing bamboo forest.
- • Investigate the growing of quinoa which has been successful in neighbouring Rwanda.
- • Rewilding of illegally-cleared area known as the eco-corridor.