Misja w Monasao gościła pod swoim dachem Rebekah Myers, studentkę, która przez pięć miesięcy poznawała życie Bayaka oraz zmiany jakie powoduje w ich środowisku otwarty trzy lata temu tartak „SINFOCAM”, oddalony 12 km od naszej wioski. Wyrąb drzewa w Republice Środkowoafrykańskiej oraz jego sprzedaż poza granicami to stałe źródło dochodu dla tego kraju, ale też pewna dewastacja naturalnego środowiska życia Pigmejów Bayaka, ich domu. Niestety, nie mają oni dzisiaj wielkiego wpływu na to co ktoś robi w ich domu. Oficjalna wersja tartaku z chińskim źródłem finansowania brzmi: „nie przyjechaliśmy tutaj by niszczyć, ale by zagospodarować drzewostan waszego lasu tropikalnego w taki sposób, aby każdy kto w nim posiada jakiś interes mógł na tym skorzystać.” Trudno przekonać się do tego stwierdzenia z punktu widzenia gospodarzy tego lasu, samych Bayaka. Od trzech lat drzewo jest wywożone z naszego regionu na ogromnych ciężarówkach z wielkim natężeniem. Jednak nie widać, by w tym czasie, ktoś ofiarował coś w zamian Pigmejom, gospodarzom tego miejsca. A na początku prac tartaku było wiele zapewnień i obietnic rozwoju tego regionu. Jak to więc będzie za 40 lat? Bo na tyle opiewa aktualne pozwolenie na wyrąb tutejszego lasu. Nie mamy na to jeszcze odpowiedzi. Ale dobrze, że niektórzy już dzisiaj zaczynają się zastanawiać nad tym pytaniem i problemem jutra. Rebekah przyjechała do nas, by się przyjrzeć temu z bliska. W jej artykule załączonym poniżej znajdziemy informacje, które pokazują dlaczego znalazła się w Monasao.
From December 2017-May 2018, I had the pleasure to live at the SMA mission in Monasao, Central African Republic. I am an American who lives in Germany and studies Integrated Natural Resource Management at Humboldt University of Berlin. I came to Monasao to do research for my master’s thesis with the BaAka and study the influence of the logging company, SINFOCAM, on the livelihoods of the BaAka and to explore possible changes in forest resources in which they depend on and play a major role in their culture. My study also extended to the next village, Nguengueli. Living at SMA with father Wojciech Lula, Dr. Emilia Bylicka, and for a short time, the volunteer Krzysztof Antkowiak, helped me establish a rather quick relationship with the BaAka, which I greatly appreciate. Through conversations over meals, etc., I quickly became familiar with the realities and history of the area and its people, and invaluable feedback and support was given on a daily basis.
To analyze the livelihoods of the BaAka, I used the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, which breaks down livelihoods into five different assets to help analyze poverty, and in the case of my research, how some of these assets may have changed since SINFOCAM has arrived. The five assets, or forms of capital, are as follows:
1. Human capital represents the skills, knowledge, ability to labor and good health and can be assessed by investigating amount and quality of labor available and varies according to,inter alia, household size, skill levels, leadership potential, and health status.
2. Social Capitalrefers to “the social resources upon which people draw in pursuit of their livelihood objectives”. This includes factors such as trust-building and cooperative networks and connectedness, which expand their ability to access wider institutions, memberships to formalized groups, relationships that provide a safety net.
3. Physical Capitalis basic infrastructure and producer goods such as tools and equipment to increase capacity to be more productive.
4. Financial Capitalincludes flows and stocks of in terms of consumption and production and attempts to capture the availability of cash or equivalent. Stocks refer to savings and can be measured with livestock, whereas regular inflows of money, excluding earned incomes, and include forms of reliable flow of money such as pensions, for example.
5. Natural Capitalrange from “intangible public goods such as atmosphere and biodiversity to divisible assets used directly for production (trees, land, etc)”
The BaAka group their houses into quartiers, in which the household members are usually related. I conducted a survey interview in each quartier and asked questions regarding the five livelihood assets, as well as general questions regarding demographics and interactions with SINFOCAM. Further information about hunting / game and gathering of non-timber forest products was also gathered through group activities, in which SMA graciously provided me with supplies and resources to make the activities and meal thereafter run smoothly. Participant observation, such as accompanying the BaAka on hunting excursions or to dam fish, or simply gathering village news, allowed for verification of what the surveys and group activities had revealed in addition to accruing new information, not to mention really special and unique experiences for me and I hope the BaAka too! Apart from the livelihood analysis, I explored the institutions involved in the governance of SINFOCAM and representation of the BaAka and their rights. As indigenous peoples, the BaAka hold many rights to forest resources and the extent to which these rights are being respected or considered when it comes to exploitation industries is questionable. I explored this aspect through interviews with various representatives, e.g. from the ministry, SINFOCAM, and more, as well as obtaining official documents and other written records. I look forward to the writing phase and am back in Berlin after a successful and fascinating research period. I’m excited to be able to add my research to the area’s library and hopefully it will be used for the betterment of the BaAka in an area, especially in light of the almost certain changes expected in the area due to SINFOCAM. I have learned so much about the situation, the problems the BaAka face, but I also cannot help to smile when I think about their endearing personality, seemingly permeant state of laughter and unremarkable knowledge of the forest. I thank Wojciech for all his insight and vast knowledge of the area and the BaAka in this area, Emilia for the riveting medical stories and the like, and my assistant, Hervé and his family especially and all the BaAka of Monasao and Nguengueli, for bringing me into their culture, and despite the language barriers, still managing to have many laughs together.