Democratic Republic of the Congo

Overview

The concept of “indigenous peoples” is accepted and approved by the government and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the DRC, the term refers to the Mbuti, Baka and Batwa peoples, who consider the generic denomination of “Pygmies” to be derogatory and discriminatory.

The exact number of indigenous peoples in the DRC is unknown. The government estimates it at around 600,000 (1% of the Congolese population) but CSOs give a figure of up to 2,000,000 (3% of the population). They live in nomadic and semi-nomadic groups throughout virtually all of the country’s provinces. Indigenous peoples’ lives are closely linked to the forest and its resources: they practise hunting, gathering and fishing and treat their illnesses through the use of their own pharmacopeia and medicinal plants. The forest lies at the heart of their culture and living environment.

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, The Indigenous World 2019

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