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The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) is a mechanism for coordinating the conservation efforts in the Greater Virunga landscape shared by the three countries, Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. This coordination needs a community involvement which is a key factor to the success of conservation and information sharing mechanisms have been pointed out as an important tool to strengthen community conservation.

In this regard, GVTC in partnership with the Volcanoes National Park (VNP) of Rwanda, organized a two-days seminar in Musanze on 6th -7th November 2014 at La Palme Hotel in Musanze(North Province of Rwanda). This seminar aimed at enabling GVTC and its partners to assemble information related to communication and information sharing systems amongst the conservation stakeholders around VNP.
The seminar brought together different park strategic partners including members (including women) of different cooperatives that have collaboration framework with the park, local leaders from some sectors bordering the VNP, research and development partners, park staff, and journalists of media that operate near VNP among others.

The involvement of the gender (men and women) in the conservation process is highly recommended by GVTC donors and partners because women are often underestimated or underrepresented in certain key sectors of social life in DRC, Rwanda & Uganda. Besides, the strengthening of the transboundary collaboration between protected areas authorities in the landscape requires the implementation of specific mechanisms for gathering and sharing information during the on-going conservation programs or activities in the landscape so that different stakeholders may learn from each other’s experience and improve their programs in the future.

The opening remarks were addressed by Ms Teddy Musabe who is the Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of planning and policy development at GVTC. She welcomed participants and thanked them for their participation and seized this opportunity to explain the background, mandate and objectives of GVTC as a mechanism for strategic, transboundary, collaborative management of the Greater Virunga Landscape.

The Chief Park Warden of VNP, Mr Prosper Uwingeli, highlighted the current existing communication systems between VNP management and different stakeholders. He put more emphasis on the applied strategies in light to the community partnership program such as education and outreach, human-wildlife conflicts management, park-communitiy collaboration, Revenue sharing program implementation (between the government and community members), etc. As a result, participants got a good understanding of mechanisms in place at VNP level, lessons learnt, gaps, faced challenges.

Participants were asked to design a new effective and efficient information sharing system in the coming future at local and regional levels in regarding GVTC objectives and policies. To do so, their discussions focused on (i) analyzing and assessing the current applied strategies in communication and information sharing with the use of SWOT method (Strengthen, Weakness, and Opportunities & Threats); (ii) definition of priority actions related to the workshop objectives.

According to the participants, this communication seminar held in Musanze has been cost-effective since it helped them know more about the community conservation and its constraints in the VNP. The encouraged VNP authorities and the government party to invest more in community projects for the populations surrounding the park by supplying more rain water harvest tanks around the park, increase efforts on sensitization and outreach. Participants recommend also the improvement of information sharing system by initiating a magazine or website for conservation publication, building effective and efficient network with all GVTC partners, organizing local and regional tours for students to raise their awareness about community
conservation.

GVTC Communication Service