Social Clauses

Decree No. 023 / CAB / MIN / ECN-T / 28 / JEB / 10 of June 7, 2010 defined the model to be followed for developing the social clause outlined in the terms of the forest concession contract.

It thus provides for, prior to the signing of the concession contract, the negotiation and signing of an agreement, which constitutes the social clause of the contractual terms, with the local community (or communities) whose traditional territories overlap with the four annual logging stands (Assiettes Annuelles de Coupe - AAC) defined in the Management Plan, which was also required prior to the signing of the concession contract.

The socio-economic projects to be financed by the concession holder are set out by this agreement, which constitutes the social clause of the contractual terms.

The success of these projects depends on several factors:

  1. Geographic position of the villages/accessibility
  2. Community commitment and engagement
  3. Logistics
  4. Situation climatique de la région
  5. The current situation of the international timber market
  6. Cost of fuel in the DRC
Projects executed as part of signed Social Clauses
  • 75 schools completed
  • 15,000 children enrolled
Outside of the company’s legal obligations
  • 60 schools completed
  • 12,000 children enrolled

Total
  • 135 schools completed
  • 27,000 children enrolled

 

The following infrastructures must also be completed by the end of 2018, in addition to those already finished:

Difficulties Encountered

With sales in the country decreasing in favor of the underground/illegal sector, Sodefor has had to compensate by making additional efforts in its commercial activities, often with mixed results. This has impacted the species and volumes of logging harvests, and therefore has impacted the execution of provisional projects.

Example: Mbelo Group – concession 35/11 (Madjoko)

In the Madjoko concession, there are two groups: Bobai (Southern part of the concession) and Mbelo (northern part of the concession);

The two new social clauses call for the construction of 27 buildings (schools with 6 classes, health centers, and meeting rooms) for the Bobai group and 26 buildings for the Mbelo group (schools with 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12 classes and health centers);

The Madjoko harvest of certain species which were planned for in the inventories is no longer certain. The final logging decision will depend on the market’s demands, and not on our own wishes;

For the Bobai group (as an example), the balance available in the Development Fund diminishes with Sodefor's expenditure of money and supplies, and currently, there is no balance available since the logging harvest did not meet the sufficient volume, due to lack of market demand.

However, the community is counting on the completion of these infrastructures.

The concession holder continues to free up funds and supplies in order to complete the construction of these buildings.

Example of the difficulty of transporting construction materials for building schools on the northwest side of the Mbelo group:

  • No access road to the destination;
  • Just handing over the materials requires 3 modes of transport, traveling around the concession:
    • By barge (with attached motorized canoe): from the Madjoko outpost to the village of Mongotabotwa via the Lukénie river and its affluent, Luabo (a distance of 110 km).
      • Unloading materials in Mongotabotwa to load them into a motorboat
      • Meeting the Lyembe group community in Mongotabotwa, who oppose the sight of materials passing through on its way to another group
    • By motorboat: from Mongotabotwa to Ngeli (distance of 20 km)
    • Unloading material in the village of Ngeli so that it can be slowly brought up via rickshaw (10 km for the closest building and 36 km for the furthest)
  • Note that each Wenge school bench weighs around 70 kg

Example of the quantity of materials to be sent to the Mbelo group for the northwestern schools:

The expected cost for each school in the social clause is the same, regardless of the distance or accessibility challenges.

The deadline for completing buildings located 166 km from the outpost and which are difficult to access (ex: EP Lokumu – Mbelo group) is the same as the deadline for buildings located at 5 km from the outpost (ex: EP Lualipeke – Bobai group);

The communities (especially along the Lukénie river) have often prioritized the number of infrastructures above their durability (for example: choosing adobe bricks, which are more vulnerable to bad weather during construction, over baked bricks);

The provisional timeline for completing the buildings is not always appropriate for the number of buildings requested by the community (for example: 2 schools in each village throughout almost the entire Mbelo grouping), the real pace of logging, or the current status of the international market. This often makes it difficult to adhere to the projects’ planned timelines.

Anybody who overlooks this relationship between the pace of forestry operations and the pace at which buildings can be completed could therefore infer willful neglect on the part of concession holder.

Because of the difficulties outlined above, certain communities choose to implement provisional equipment instead (for example, bench desks).

These are the kinds of images which NGOs freely exploit to tarnish companies’ reputations, without verifying the real reasons behind these situations.

When Sodefor’s companies were established in the years around Congo’s independence (1960), the tropical forestry industry was not yet subject to prejudice.

In 1986, there were 134 industrial forestry companies (including those operating with single saw lines). In 2004, the Ministry of the Environment and the Forests only counted 23 companies currently in operation. Today, there are fewer than 10 legal industrial companies.

During this time, thousands of jobs have been created. The human and social impact of the legal forestry industry reaches the tens of thousands.

This impact is most important in those regions where our forest concessions lie, where sadly there is no other economic activity. For several years, we have felt as though the tropical forestry industry is considered to be an (almost) criminal activity.

Meanwhile, the informal/illegal forestry sector, which didn’t exist until 2000, continues to grow with no oversight or obstacles.

It provides no social impact or contributions to the State budget. Its impact on the environment is destructive. There is no control over the logging.

Thanks to Sodefor’s possession and management of large areas of forest concessions, these forests have so far been protected from illegal and uncontrolled logging.

Sodefor aims to obtain development plans for all of its concessions by the end of 2019.

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