A turbulent history

In the beginning: an industrial project

A Government initiative to meet increasing energy needs

In the beginning, the Mampu project bore an industrial dimension. The site had been selected in 1984 by the then Zairian Ministry of the Environment to produce charcoal on a large scale in order to meet the ever-increasing energy needs of the country's capital, Kinshasa. At the time, this initiative was also supported by the EEC.

A Dutch company - HVA - was retained to plant an 8000-hectare forest with acacias on the Batéké Plateau between 1987 and 1992.

This represented an innovative approach that eventually transformed the local natural environment and involved a large number of workers originating from all the country's provinces. All the acacias of the plantation, representing over six million seedlings, were produced in a nursery located next to the housing estate of Mampu which had been developed specifically for that purpose.

An untimely end

Political events ring the knell of the project

However, Congo's History took a new course in the 90s. By 1992 the political instability in the country was such that HVA was forced to leave the Congo, abandoning some 8000 hectares of young acacia trees under threat of brushfires coming from the surrounding savanna. It was at this point in time that the Hanns Seidel Foundation - which was already active on the Bateke Plateau - offered to monitor the Mampu plantation.

An alliance of competences

Hanns Seidel Foundation • European Commission • Congolese Ministry of the Environment

From then on a tripartite collaboration initiated by the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Congo would take place between the Foundation, the Delegation of the European Commission in Kinshasa and the Ministry of the Environment, at first of Zaïre, and then of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when the country was renamed after 1997. This alliance will eventually save the plantation of Mampu from destruction by fire hazards and an uncontrolled cultivation.

From 1993 to 2004, the Hanns Seidel Foundation took over the plantation's supervision involving some of the staff that had stayed behind with the support of the non-governmental organization CADIM (Centre d'Appui au Développement Intégral - Mbankana / Support Center for an Integral Development - Mbankana).

An involved population

Transformation into a village farm

By 1995, the Hanns Seidel Foundation will make the choice to transform what was once an industrial operation into a village farm run by the local population. Eventually, some 300 families will end up benefiting from this program by establishing themselves in Mampu as farmers. Over the years, each of these families will receive a 25-hectare plot of acacia forest to be farmed by them - with the last farmers establishing themselves in the area in 2007.