The Howard G. Buffett Foundation will donate $5 million to help develop a hydro power project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to a quarter of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas.
Two hydro plants will generate 15 megawatts of electricity for small-scale agricultural businesses and more than a million people around the park, said an emailed statement dated May 1 from the foundation, which is run by the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Construction will finish by 2015, it said.
“Over time, profits from the sale of electricity will support up to 40 percent of Virunga National Park’s basic operating costs,” it said. The grant is part of a two-year, $50 million commitment by the foundation to support food security, economic development and mitigate conflict in eastern Congo, it said.
Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over the past two decades, ongoing conflict in Congo’s east has damaged the park and decimated the animal population, which also includes hippopotamuses, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees.