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Virunga Fund Inc

Brooklyn, NY | http://virunga.org
Joined in March 2019

About Us

The mission of Virunga Fund Inc is to support the conservation efforts in Virunga National Park—Africa's oldest and most biologically diverse protected area and a catalyst for peace in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

There is no place in the world quite like Virunga. Its two million acres encompass a dramatic diversity of landscapes: active volcanoes, glacier-topped peaks, impenetrable rainforests, sun-bleached savannas, and one of Africa's great lakes. This diversity has attracted an incredible range of species, making Virunga home to a greater variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles than any other reserve on the planet. These inhabitants include over a third of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.

Such abundance is both a blessing and a curse. Virunga is located at the center of one of the world’s longest-running wars, which has killed millions through fighting and disease and forced millions more to flee their homes since it started in 1996. Basic infrastructure has crumbled under decades of corruption, nepotism, and state neglect, leaving the economy in tatters. Nearly four million people live within a day’s walk of the park, facing the daily struggles brought on by conflict and poverty, as some of the region’s most fertile land and profitable natural resources sit just across a fence. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that rebel groups have invaded the park to cut down the trees, poach the animals, and provide cover for those who illegally farm and fish on park lands.

Nevertheless, Virunga has held strong through decades of this chaos due to the bravery of its dedicated park rangers. Armed rebels outnumber the rangers about 5:1, earning Virunga a reputation as one of the most dangerous national parks in the world. Over 175 rangers have been killed fighting to protect the park, including nine in 2018 alone. However, despite the enormous risks, being a Virunga National Park ranger is said to be one of the most prestigious and sought-after jobs in eastern Congo; thousands apply for each new class.

Despite the odds stacked against Virunga, there is hope.

The only way to truly protect the park and ease the people’s suffering is to address the root causes of the violence: poverty and unemployment. In 2011, Virunga launched an ambitious sustainable development program to do just that, known as the Virunga Alliance. The Alliance—with its clean energy, small loan, sustainable agriculture, and eco-tourism programs—has already become one of the largest peace and development actors in eastern Congo.

Since its formation, the Virunga Alliance has begun to generate employment and enable economic growth in a way never before seen in the region:

  • With two hydropower plants online and two more to be completed by the end of 2019, Virunga is set to increase the province’s public supply of electricity by about 800%. North Kivu previously had about 4 MW of power; Virunga’s four plants will add 29MW of capacity. Additional hydropower plants are in the planning stages.
  • 270,000 people living in villages around the hydropower plants now enjoy public lighting and reliable electricity at their hospitals and schools, provided for free by the park.
  • Over 5,000 homes and small businesses have been connected to the grid. Only 3% of people in the province had access to electricity before the Alliance began its work; most people must rely on charcoal or diesel generators to survive.
  • Virunga has given over $300,000 in small loans in the first 18 months of its innovative loan program, which allows the park to help those who have no other access to credit.
  • Approximately 35,000 jobs have been created—either directly or indirectly—as a result of Virunga’s work. Over 5,500 of these are in businesses that rely on Virunga electricity, and about 7% of those 5,500 jobs went to ex-combatants.

The mission of Virunga Fund Inc is to support the conservation efforts in Virunga National Park—Africa's oldest and most biologically diverse protected area and a catalyst for peace in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

There is no…

Issue Areas Include

  • Animals
  • Community Development
  • Economic Development
  • Energy
  • Environment & Sustainability

Location

  • 378 Union Street
    Garden Apt
    Brooklyn, NY 11231

Photos for Virunga Fund Inc

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