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The “zero poaching” workshop organized by GVTC from the 14 th to 15th March 2017 in Musanze for conservation state agencies and international organizations was followed by a field visit to Rwandan and Congolese protected areas in order to understand the local realities related to conflicts between humans and animals caused by the pressure to access to natural resources.
A delegation from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kigali, led by Mr. Peter Drost, Head of Development Cooperation of the Embassy, along with a few GVTC staff and partners, made this field visit for successful talks with local communities in Rwanda and DRC, main beneficiaries of the projects implemented by GVTC, with financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The problem of access to natural resources in protected areas is of paramount importance for the populations living around those protected areas. Indeed, the livelihood of those populations depends on the access to firewood, water and other scarce resources that they can sometime dispute with park animals and this is very often a source of conflicts. Behind this, there is a considerable number of shared risks between humans and animals, including attacks on animals from animals to humans, the ravaging of farmers’ crops by animals from the park, the transmission of contagious diseases on both sides, etc.
In order to provide a somewhat lasting solution to the above-mentioned risks, the Volcanoes National Park has undertaken, in recent years, through funding received from GVT and other partners, the construction of stone buffaloes wall to prevent the damage of field crops of the populations living along the park. The 74-kmilometer-long wall of the park, extending to the DRC and Uganda’s borders, is also used to prevent escapes and attacks by mountain gorillas and other dangerous species living in the park. This preventive stone wall project has benefited from the involvement of local communities who are currently taking advantage of it, in terms of reducing attacks from park animals against field crops.
Access to water is a common issue for almost the populations living alongside the park, in this area where there is practically no water source and no water. The community members expressed the wish to extend to other communities and villages, for their well-being, the initiative of rainwater collection tanks, implemented by the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP). In the Kabatwa Sector, in Rwanda, in partnership with RDB and the Women’s cooperative Imbereheza, GVTC financed the installation of rainwater collection tanks to improve the living conditions of the communities. Each tank serves more than 12 households that use this water for cooking, laundry, livestock watering, etc.
The above-mentioned project was extended or duplicated on the Rugari, in Rutshuru territory, where the populations around the park benefited from fountain posts by GVTC, through the implementation made by the Observatoire Vulcanologique de Goma (OVG). The villages of Gakoro 1 & 2 within Our Lady of Rosary Parish, benefited from the said fountains. Mr Eric Mashagiro, Head of Rugari Groupment and beneficiary populations acknowledged the rapid impact of the fountain posts in their villages, in particular the reduction of water-borne diseases and the improvement of the living conditions in general, although efforts must be made by the community and its leaders to maintain and sustain this public utility project.
In Kibumba Groupement, located in Nyiragongo territory, where there is also a crucial lack of access to drinking water, the installation of rainwater collection tanks has facilitated access to water for many households, through IGCP that was the implementing organization for GVTC funded project.
Mr Batachoka Matungulu, Head of Kibumba Groupement, told his hosts that access to water remains the top priority within his administrative entity, alongside other priorities such as the construction of healthcare centers, the opening of agricultural feeder roads, the construction of schools to meet the educational needs of students who still having teachings outdoors.
Members of the delegation of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kigali, with GVTC staff and their partners, had fruitful discussions with the Director of the Virunga National Park to have an overview of conservation issues, economic growth, peace and security challenges within the region.
GVTC Communication Service.