Applying ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the Lukaya Basin, DRC

Published: 29 October 2017
Last edited: 01 October 2020
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The project targeted disaster and climate risk reduction as an integral part of an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) process conjunctly taking place in DRC. Pilot ecosystem-based measures aimed to reduce soil/gulley erosion and flood risk in two sites (upstream and downstream) in the Lukaya Basin, while improving livelihoods and income. Capacity was developed locally and nationally on ecosystem-based measures and national advocacy on EbA/Eco-DRR was supported through IWRM. 


The project took an Eco-DRR approach addressing hazards and vulnerability to reduce disaster risk. However, the project activities also addressed climate change adaptation through working with climate change impacts and people's vulnerability to change through the ecosystem-based measures involved in IWRM. Thus these measures can be seen as both Eco-DRR and EbA, while the implementation framework was Eco-DRR.


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Disaster risk reduction
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Local actors
Sustainable livelihoods
Watershed management
Land and Forest degradation
Infrastructure development
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Sendai Framework
Target 1: Reduce global disaster mortality by 2030
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020
Target 6: Enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030
Target 7: Increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030


Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo | Nptampa, Kasangulu, Kimwenza, Mafumba


Water resource management is a challenge in part due to unplanned and uncoordinated land use. Rapid urbanization, slash-and-burn agriculture, quarrying, charcoal production and horticulture have resulted in deforestation and degradation of the land and river water quality. Excessive erosion has created gullies, landslides and increases flood risk, which has become a major problem due to increasing rain, and this also increases sediment pollution in the water.


1,400 inhabitants (Ntampa, Kasangulu, Kimwenza and Mafumba zones of the Lukaya Watershed) out of a total population of 80,000 in the Lukaya River basin.

How do the building blocks interact?

Mainstreaming Eco-DRR/EbA in the development of an IWRM Action Plan (building block 1) is the underlying goal of the project. Field activities such as agroforestry and reforestation (building block 2) and gully and soil erosion control (building block 3) provide demonstration of ecosystem-based measures and their benefits for inclusion in (building block 1). Capacity building (building block 4) and national advocacy (building block 5) support long-term sustainability of the IWRM and ecosystem-based measures for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.


Soil/gulley erosion was mitigated in the pilot sites, reducing flood risk. Indeed heavy rain in 2015 during implementation in the area did not result in worsening the gullies, showing successful erosion control. Drinking water supply is protected.


Communities are more resilient due to increased income and diversification of livelihoods (e.g. bee keeping and fruit tree cultivation). Indeed the community-based agroforestry system over 8 years ensures new harvests of cowpeas and cassava, as well as the sale of charcoal generated from cleared agroforestry fields have augmented incomes of the 20 participating households.


Local and national stakeholders are able to focus more efforts on disaster prevention and to address the multiple drivers of ecosystem degradation in the Lukaya basin that contribute to disaster risk. The project resulted in greater national commitment to mainstream Eco-DRR into national development policies, including the development of the National Water Policy.



Implemented from 2013-2016 in the Lukaya River basin in collaboration with the DRC government, local communities, and academic institutions, and funded by the European Commission, the project strove to protect and rehabilitate one of the main watersheds supplying drinking water to the sprawling capital of Kinshasa. In addition to protecting drinking water supplies, the project’s integrated approach addresses several core development challenges including livelihoods and poverty reduction, food security and disaster risk reduction.


The Association of the Users of the Lukaya River Basin (AUBR/L) was the main implementing body in the project, which was first strengthened, supported to gain legal identity and restructured. The AUBR/L was supported to develop an IWRM Action Plan (2016-2018), which provides a roadmap for water resource management in the Lukaya watershed, including ecosystem-based measures.


The project implemented a number of ecosystem-based measures in both upstream and downstream areas as pilot demonstrations of ecosystem-based measures for adaptation and disaster risk reduction within the IWRM approach:


Upstream: At the source of the river near the village of Ntampa in Kongo Central Province - Activities in this area focused on revegetation through community agroforestry and reforestation to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation in the Lukaya River at the source; establishing hydro-meteorological and river flow monitoring instruments and an Eco-DRR/IWRM information center.


Downstream: In Mafumba sub-watershed near Kinshasa which is experiencing high risk of soil erosion and anarchic urbanization - Activities in Mafumba focused on piloting a soil erosion monitoring methodology and gully erosion control through bioengineering (with vetiver); In Kimwenza - Vetiver grass and trees were used to control river bank erosion and establish a green buffer zone at the water treatment plant. The office of AUBR/L’s downstream committee was also established in the compound of the water treatment plant.


A number of workshops and trainings were undertaken to increase capacity at the local and national level and field visits and study tours in the country and in the region also took place. All of this enabled and supported the development of the national water policy and enabled the post 2015 national and global policy on DRR.

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Marisol Estrella UNEP

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