CoNGOs: NGOs collaborating for equitable and sustainable community livelihoods in Congo Basin forests


CoNGOs is an IIED-led UK consortium that aims for improved governance and practice for equitable and sustainable community forestry livelihoods in the Congo Basin.

A woman carries firewood in the Congo Basin rainforest (Photo: Ollivier Girard/CIFOR, Creative Commons via Flickr)

Countries in the Congo Basin are at a crossroads in managing their lands and forests. Governments in the region have the ambition to transform their countries to 'emerging economy' status within the next two decades, and national strategies aiming for economic growth focus on the exploitation of natural resources including forests, and the rapid development of agribusiness and energy infrastructures, often at large scale.

But the huge number of small scale producers, working on farms and in the forest, whose economic aspirations might unleash much more equitable and sustainable growth, are not adequately supported.

Community forestry has been one avenue through which stakeholders in the Congo Basin have sought to support participatory sustainable resource management and development. However, "community forestry" is also a contested idea.

There is an urgent need, not only to clarify, recognise and secure customary rights of forest-dependent communities, but to ensure that policies and laws as well as services aiming at supporting implementation offer real opportunity for those communities to participate in, and contribute to, sustainable economic progress in line with their own development visions.

What is IIED doing?

This project will work directly with a range of key stakeholders in forest dependent communities, such as forest and farm producers, indigenous peoples, and women's groups, to help build the foundations for a more inclusive and equal forest and land use sector in the Congo Basin.

The project is designed to contribute to achieving the anticipated impact of the Department for International Development's (DFID) Improving Livelihoods and Land Use in the Congo Basin Forests (ILLUCBF) programme to support the development of sustainable and secure community livelihoods in the Congo Basin.

Over a period of three years this initiative will pursue country specific actions and regional learning exchanges to achieve the following outputs:

  1. Improved evidence on viable options for community forestry, including strengthening of rights, generated and verified by relevant stakeholders in the Congo Basin countries
  2. Stronger capacity of community organisations to pursue resource rights security and commercial forest and farm production options, and articulate policy changes in national forest governance and land use planning processes, and
  3. More effective policy engagement and implementation in support of sustainable and profitable community forestry through the collaboration of rights-holders, civil society organisations and national institutions in subnational, national, regional and international policy processes.


CoNGOs: NGOs collaborating for equitable and sustainable community livelihoods in Congo Basin forests (2016), IIED flyer


Department for International Development (DFID), UK


UK consortium partners:

Client Earth


Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)

Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK)

Well Grounded


Anna Bolin (, researcher, forest team, IIED's Natural Resources research group

James Mayers (, director, IIED's Natural Resources research group