The NICHE Project kick off took place on the 29th March 2017, in Musanze(Rwanda) by its consortium members, in the presence of the Mr. Gaspard Ndagiimana, Representative of the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali(Rwanda).
At this crucial day, the opening remarks were given by Mrs. Grace Kyomuhendo, the Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of Finance & Administration, Representative of the GVTC Executive Secretary, Dr Georges Muamba Tshibasu during his annual leave.
Mrs. Grace Kyomuhedo thanked the Netherlands Government through the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali for the continued support over the last 10 years, for without which the NICHE partnership would not come out this year.
The Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of Finance & Administration recalled that the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) is a land of great opportunities arising from its natural resourcefulness that include a variety of ecosystems (tropical and temperate forest, wetlands, savannah grasslands, lakes, rivers etc.), minerals and fertile soils which in turn make it a hub for researchers, tourism, agricultural products, energy and all forms of trade based on these resources. Consequently, the GVL has also attracted a large human population and it has the largest rural population density in Africa.
The GVL cannot be appreciated without taking into consideration the efforts made by GVTC and its partners to come up with the Treaty that still consolidates this collaboration between the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Rwanda and Uganda. It is in that regard that Mrs. Grace Kyomuhendo pointed out that the three party states, through many years of negotiations, came to a common position and signed the GVTC treaty (2015) that provided a transboundary collaboration framework of both state and non-state parties in the conservation of GVL resources, inclusive growth and associated conflict resolution.
Before closing her remarks, Mrs Grace Kyomuhendo stated that The Niche project “Enhancing Capacity in Natural Resource Management and Conflict Resolution for Stability and Inclusive Growth in the Greater Virunga Landscape” is a timely intervention. And because of that, it will provide capacity-building support to enhance professionalism and human resource development for continued coordination of the various state and non-state actors in sustainable improved conservation of transboundary natural resources management. It will also address the potential impact of climate change, associated conflicts management and peace building in the Greater Virunga Landscape region in particular and in the Africa’s Great Lakes Region in general.
The closing remarks at this ceremony were given by Mr. Edgar Buhanga, Representative of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) who highlighted that the NICHE project comes at a time when the region is still grappling with a number of challenges with respect to Natural Resources management and conflicts; conflicts of varying dimensions and magnitudes; ranging from those conflicts that relate directly to the use of natural resources management to those that involve armed groups. In that regard, this project offers several opportunities since the challenges above mentioned require specialized skills and knowledge to be able to address them. Mr. Edgar Buhanga expressed his happiness that the NICHE project launched today will go a long way in addressing these knowledge gaps.
Before closing his remarks, the Representative of UWA states that the marriage the consortium members have entered is a marriage within an existing marriage – a marriage between three countries of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. He therefore recalled that the positive element in all this is the fact that this project finds a well-founded entry point. However the second dimension is that the project needs to take into account political and country parities without compromising the regional approach fundamentals.
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