"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. Conservation and environmental awareness is taught from a young age.
- • Afforestation - a huge tree planting scheme is underway.
- • Training pygmy women who had been poachers to use sewing machines and become seamstresses.
- • Training former poachers to make wood carvings to sell to tourists.
- • Constructing fish ponds to provide a good source of protein and help to end the consumption of illegal bush meats.
- • Spirulina project - spirulina is a highly nutritious algae which is used as a food supplement, and is proving particularly successful in the treatment of malnutrition in children.
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 which the Pole Pole Foundation wishes to do. Projects in development, depending on funding, include:-
- • A food exchange system between the six different 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 in the KBNP and learn about POPOF’s community work.
- • Promotion of house-building with fired bricks instead of wood to save the park’s forest resources.
- • Bee-keeping opportunities for local women to provide good nutrition and produce for sale at market.
- • Mushroom growing to prevent people from entering the park to pick mushrooms, which is illegal. This would provide a good source of nutrition and produce to sell at market.
- • More education programmes.