A civil war and continued civil conflict has resulted in the country’s collapsed economy and ruined infrastructure. People living in villages surrounding the Salonga are isolated and extremely poor. An eroding educational system has deprived at least two generations of a proper education. In communities near the Salonga, about 90% of adults are illiterate, rendering entire communities incapable of fully participating in governance activities or finding jobs – both of which are necessary for improving quality of life. Primary schools, where they do exist, are ill-equipped and difficult to access – children have to walk long distances to attend classes.BCBI’s community-assistance program includes support to primary schools and adult literacy classes in several villages near Etate. For an area often neglected and overlooked by civil services and humanitarian agencies, we hope these efforts can build a more positive relationship between villages and the national park authorities and give people the skills to possibly engage in conservation efforts. Educational opportunities may eventually lead to economic opportunities and motivate communities so that over the long term, they rely less on wildlife as a source of food and income.