Groupe Utalii Kwetu ‘GUK’ is a Congolese initiative from the private sector (NGOs and tour operators) evolving in the tourism arena and environmental protection in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Born out of the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go with others”, GUK members aim to combine their resources, experience, know-how and efforts with the ultimate goal to revive tourism and support environmental protection efforts in the Congo, one of lungs of the World.
To support environmental protection efforts and promote eco-tourism in DR Congo.
To bring DR Congo to contribute effectively to maintaining the global balance of ecosystems and to make tourism a pillar of sustainable and inclusive development in the country.
OUr areas of intervention
Education remains our core approach to achieving our nonprofit goal. In this regard, on one side, our efforts are channeled through ‘Utalii Kwetu’ Program, a program funded partly by the U.S. Department of State. Utalii Kwetu is a school program that aims to introduce schoolchildren to ecotourism and environmental protection. This program is based on a combination of scholastic materials including manuals, images, comic books and VR/AR headset into the DR Congo’s school curriculum to spark the future environmentalists from the Congolese children by passing onto them knowledge on tourism, nature conservation and environmental protection. On the other side, we have got a network of 100 researchers, already working for some, and ready to work for others, on an integrated evolutionarily-informed framework for protecting and managing DR Congo’s biodiversity under climate change that is grounded in the socioeconomic constraints of the region.
We believe that preserving Africa’s surviving tropical forests and planting new trees to replace those lost to deforestation could help reduce the severity of climate change by absorbing more carbon from the air, and ease the local impact of climate change by regulating local weather conditions. For that reason and in the specific case of Democratic Republic of the Congo, changing the way the government and people value forests is critical to the survival of those forests. We are thus working on 2 fronts: advocating for policies including environmental protection in all the classes of primary school of the DR Congo and working to plant 100 000 trees with school kids by the end of the year 2023.
The role of ecotourism in igniting development in developing countries is not to be demonstrated. Ecotourism helps conserve natural resources and endangered species, in part by providing incentives for the local community to become involved in the process. It also creates a sustainable tourism market, which in turn promotes a sense of self-reliance for locals. The Democratic Republic of the Congo having more than 4 endemic species, 10 national parks, 5 of which are on the world heritage list and 57 reserves, does have a huge but untapped ecotourism potential. The flora and fauna of the DRC are among the richest on the continent with the potential to attract millions of tourists every year for the benefit of the country’s economy. Unlike Africa’s biggest economies which have managed to leverage tourism for a sustainable and inclusive development, the lack of infrastructure, deforestation and poaching among others are causing the country no to tap into its touristic potential. Thanks to our numerous programs / projects we are working side by side with the government and the private sector to boost ecotourism for a sustainable and inclusive development in the DR Congo.
Innovation backed by technology underpins all our nonprofit activities. We are taking each opportunity to use modern technology to promote social change with the overall goal to support environmental protection efforts and promote eco-tourism in DR Congo.
- We are thus using social media (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to launch mass scale campaigns on nature conservation and environmental protections reaching tens of thousands of people at a very low cost;
- Organizing major online fundraising efforts from across the globe to protect and preserve the Congolese tropical rainforest, one of lungs of the World
- Virtual reality in education: We are leveraging VR/AR to offer schoolchildren in eastern Congo experiences and interactions that are neither practical nor possible due to infrastructure problems and insecurity, offering an unprecedented way to immerse and captivate these children including those living with disabilities on nature conservation and environmental protection.
As Groupe Utalii Kwetu nonprofit conservation is at the core of our activities. For us, conservation is is not an abstract or theoretical concept … it’s about our natural environment, fighting climate change (stopping deforestation), caring for animals and birds that live in our very own backyards, school playgrounds, local parks, and preserving reserves as well as protecting protected areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Additionally, our work is about promoting tourism on which most of protected areas depend on to survive but also create opportunities for local communities through ecotourism.
So, our work is three dimensional:
- Education ABOUT the environment – developing knowledge and skills: Thanks to our strong.
of team of experts in education, we have created a set of scholastic materials
(books, comic books and images). These materials are made of curriculum-based
learning and inquiry, usually in the classroom. Education ABOUT the environment
develops awareness and understanding of environmental issues.
- Education IN the environment – connecting to nature and place: Education outside – place-based learning. Education IN the environment fosters values andattitudes by encouraging personal growth and well-being through direct contact with nature. We combine learning expeditions to teachings in the classroom to allow kids connect with nature as in the end you cannot preserve what you don’t understand. We also leverage VR/AR to immerse students in virtual experiences, delivering experiences and interactions for students that are either not practical or not possible in the ‘real world’, provides an unparalleled way toimmerse and captivate students of all ages.
- Education FOR the environment – taking action to restore, grow and protect: Applying skills, knowledge and values to take environmental action and participate in local restoration. Education FOR the environment increases a sense of responsibility, confidence and empowerment through participating in active citizenship and taking collective action to resolve environmental issues. We including schoolkids in our various projects involving reforestation campaigns. Our goal is to plant 100 000 trees with children by not only helping to absorb tons of Co2 but planting seeds of future environmentalists.