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The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) is a mechanism for coordinating the conservation efforts in the Greater Virunga Landscape. This intergovernmental institution is aware of the relevance of communication needs and information sharing among protected areas authorities and other stakeholders involved in national parks conservation of the three countries (Rwanda, Uganda & DRC).

After the two seminars held in Goma (DRC) and Musanze(Rwanda) on Communication Needs and Information sharing, the last seminar has been held in Kisoro(Uganda) from the 27th to the 28th November 2014 at Tourist Hotel with a specific objective aimed at involving community members in a sustainable conservation of national parks through information sharing in the Greater Virunga Landscape.

Thirty participants from local community based organizations supported by GVTC and UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority), leaders of women associations; journalists, political and academic authorities as well as representatives of NGO took part into this communication seminar. An assessment of communication needs and information sharing has been made by participants to provide UWA and GVTC with strategic tools to enhance the conservation process in the Greater Virunga Landscape.

During the opening remarks, Mr Milton Bazanye Mutabazi, the Chairperson of the Kisoro District took this opportunity to welcome participants who were from Kisoro, Kabale, Kampala as well as the organizers from Kigali. The Chairperson of Kisoro thanked GVTC for having brought all these stakeholders together to think about communication strategies so that Protected Areas Authorities may improve their conservation work by involving more community members and partners. Mr Milton Bazanye Mutabazi focused on GVTC efforts which are still giving a support to local communities in water supplying through local organizations like URP (Uplift the Rural Poor).

The Chairperson of Kisoro District encouraged GVTC to continue coordinating the conservation efforts of the Greater Virunga Landscape which is shared between the three countries, DRC, Rwanda & Uganda, while pointed out that we have three countries but one landscape and the borders of those three countries are the creation of Europeans. But the animals living in the parks do not need borders, they are free to be wherever they want in the national parks of the three countries. Mr Milton Bazanye is still convinced that we should learn from those animals which are animals of the world.

The communication strategy is important to achieve collaboration between the three countries of the Greater Virunga Landscape to harmonize the efforts in protected areas conservation. According to the Kisoro District Chairperson, natural resources should be rationally used for the development so that the future generations may also profit of them in the same conditions like we have found them. That is sustainability.
This communication seminar has been appreciated by participants who recommended GVTC and its partners to organize a regional forum on information sharing and dissemination of lessons learnt and successes or best practices. The revenue sharing has been also suggested as a mechanism aimed at local development improving through local projects.

To make information sharing strategy more cost-effective, participants recommended conservation education by giving rise to alternative livelihood; land use information that protects the environment. The women’s role in conservation has been pointed out and participants suggested that women should be more involved in conservation activities such as community mobilization, carrying out awareness, information sharing trough drama, handcraft since both men and women have to play key roles in community conservation.

GVTC Communications Service.