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AWF Celebrates Success of Community Based Counter Wildlife Trafficking Project in DRC

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CBCWT meeting in Buta

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) held a two-day workshop in Buta, the provincial capital of Bas-Uélé, from June 8-9, 2023, to present and share the main achievements of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Community-Based Counter Wildlife Trafficking (CBCWT) project with stakeholders from the public administration and civil society in Bas-Uélé.

During the session, participants were briefed on the project's main objectives, expected results, and achievements. Particular emphasis was placed on the progress achieved in the context of introducing sustainable agriculture, including the processing of cassava into flour, the improvement of security through the installation of 11 radio stations, the proposal of a land-use plan to regulate the use of space, the establishment of three pilot ponds for fish farming purposes, as well as advocacy for the formalization of mining outside the Bili-Uere Hunting Estate.

The workshop was attended by 40 people — of whom four were women and 36 men — representing state structures (sectoral ministries and the governorate) and civil society.

"I am delighted on this day to see that AWF has respected the principle of accountability. AWF has been supporting the Congolese government for the past five years, and today it stands before us and says: here's the work we've done, take ownership of the results and use them for future interventions along the same lines. I'm delighted by this, and it reflects his willingness to collaborate transparently with the State," emphasized Jean-Pierre Maziambola, Acting Governor of Bas-Uélé Province, in his closing speech.

During the workshop, participants appreciated the efforts made by AWF in implementing its activities in a rather difficult context, given not only the hypothetical security situation on its arrival but also the almost non-existent road infrastructure. "Today, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature is proud of the perfect duo formed with AWF to carry out the activities of this CBCWT/USAID project. It may be called a pilot project, but after five years we can see and appreciate the results. Now that the foundations have been laid, our wish is to see AWF obtain further funding, larger than this one, to broaden the scope of activities, but also to continue the efforts made upstream," said Bernard Iyomi, Site Manager of the Bili-Uere Hunting Estate.

This workshop officially marked the end of the CBCWT project launched in June 2018 and ran for five years in Bili-Uere Hunting Estate with the support of USAID. The project interventions included working with resident communities and groups living on the periphery of this protected area to promote livelihoods and income-generating activities that support the conservation of natural resources.

The project was divided into three phases, the first of which involved preliminary studies to better understand the landscape's critical issues and to determine a baseline situation and the relevant indicators for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of activities.

"In the second phase, the recommendations resulting from these situational assessments were used to initiate small-scale pilot activities for the benefit of communities and to develop the most promising large-scale activities in the third phase, which should benefit a growing number of households, to gradually reverse the negative trend, by reducing the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources that was taking place in this vast expanse, to the detriment of biodiversity conservation," explained Antoine Tabu, AWF's DRC Country Coordinator and Deputy Chief of Party for the CBCWT/USAID project.

He continued, "My pleasure is that the local and provincial authorities, as well as the local community, have understood the challenges and dangers facing the Bili-Uere landscape. As I kept saying during this workshop, we owe a debt to nature in that, in this part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have abused natural resources. It's a relief to see that, together, all the stakeholders have come to the conclusion that we need to redress the balance to ensure the future of our generation."