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Carbon Credits Fund a New Hospital at the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project

Hospital at the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
New Ibali Hospital at the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Last year, the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project team pulled off the daunting feat of building a modern health clinic in the highly remote area of the Mai Ndombe project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Setting up a hospital in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not as simple as just constructing walls of the building. The remote infrastructure had to be carefully planned by the engineers of our Mai Ndombe REDD+ team, led by Charly Nkunku. When embarking on this project, even other international health NGOs couldn’t help compile the medical supply list needed to service such a remote location, which demonstrates just how pioneering of an activity this was.

Local communities at the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project decided to build this hospital through their unique governance structure known as Local Development Committees (LDCs). Community members are democratically elected to LDCs, where they then work together to decide how best to use the community’s earned carbon revenue from protecting their forests. The community's decision made sense, as the area frequently suffered from preventable Measles epidemics and had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Dr. Christian Ntoko, a physician who grew up in the region and has now returned to serve his community, described the old clinic where people were treated as, "more fit for animals than humans like you and me. But now life is changing."

a shack with dirty medical equipment
The old clinic where community members were treated

To conserve energy, our team used eco-friendly brick-making machines that only used one third of the cement required by traditional methods. While all construction materials were locally sourced from Kinshasa, all of the specialist field-clinic medical equipment had to be outsourced from particular European suppliers specialized in tropical medical equipment for field-clinics. Getting the 2,000+ line-items of general-medicine supplies, such as specialized laboratory and surgical equipment, to the rainforests of the DRC was no easy feat.

In just over 3 weeks, 20 tons of medical equipment were air-freighted to Kinshasa, the capital city of the DRC. Due to the lack of reliable roads to the project area, the equipment was then air-lifted on a rare tailgate cargo aircraft capable of landing on a dirt airstrip. Then, the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project team, led by Bruno Llonga, coordinated multiple boat trips to transfer the fragile cargo across the majestic lake Mai Ndombe to the construction site in Ibali.

Loading medical equipment onto the cargo plane
Loading medical equipment onto the cargo plane

boat crossing a lak
Crossing the grand Mai Ndombe lake to the final construction site

This operation was incredibly challenging, but it was successfully completed on time and under budget. Several separate initiatives, such as the construction of a 40-meter-tall radio communications tower, a power generation system, a fresh water supply / storage system, and a waste management system, are also critical to the functionality of this hospital. This project created an additional source of income for the many villagers involved in the construction of the clinic and generated many opportunities to learn new skills. This facility has already proven critical for lowering maternal mortality and managing a recent monkeypox outbreak in early 2023.

The World Health Organization has found that at least 140 countries recognize health as a human right in their constitution. Yet countries are not passing and putting into practice laws to make this right a reality. Data suggests that at least 4.5 billion people — more than half of the world’s population — were not fully covered by essential health services in 2021. As Dr. Ntoko reflected, "Whether in Europe or in Africa, we are all human beings. We all have the right to life, and this population [in Mai Ndombe] also has the right to life and quality healthcare.” With revenue from forest protection REDD+ carbon credits, access to quality healthcare in this remote region is now a reality.


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