Category: ABCG News

Lessons from Africa to the Navajo Nation on Freshwater Resources Management

I come from the Diné (Navajo) people and live on the Navajo reservation. In my culture, we have a deep respect for water because all life needs water to exist. We also value water because there is so little on the Navajo reservation. The Navajo Nation is in the southwestern part of the US, bordering Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado.

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ABCG Launches New Lessons Learned Publication on Translating Projects to Policies

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group has launched a new report, Translating Projects to Policies: Lessons Learned Applying the FW-WASH Advocacy Strategy Methodology in South Africa and Uganda. This report provides lessons learned in the implementation of advocacy strategies.

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ABCG Initiates Five Community Based Adaptation Projects in Zimbabwe to Empower Communities to Adapt to Climate Change

The uncertainty that is caused by climate change has resulted in disruption of lives and livelihoods of many communities. Among the worst affected communities are communities whose livelihood is dependent in livestock, agriculture and fisheries. Farmers living near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North province whose livelihood is mainly dependent on crop production and livestock keeping are experiencing insufficient water and an increase in prevalence of pests.

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A New Phase of ABCG: Journey to Achieving Greater Impact for the Conservation of African Biodiversity

ABCG is moving into a new phase. We are building from past successes and developing a future for our organization that will allow us to achieve even more for the conservation of African biodiversity and remain a strong, sustainable organization.

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To Realized Positive and Lasting Global Health Outcomes, Stakeholder Engagement in Key

One key lesson that ABCG learned at the onset of the Population Health and Environment project was that a difference of perception between actors involved in the activities caused differential levels of engagement. Therefore, one of the most important activity of the project is the mobilization of different stakeholder groups around the project. These mobilization events ensure sufficient and clear understanding of the project’s goals, specific project objectives and expected results.

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Water Means Building Resilience among Vulnerable Populations through Integrated Programming: World Water Day 2021

We join the rest of the world in marking World Water Day celebrated on March 22, 2021 by promoting integrated freshwater conservation and WASH (FW-WASH). This year’s theme on valuing water, raises awareness of the vital importance of water to safeguard human security and maintain the health of the planet’s ecosystems. ABCG is reducing watershed degradation and improving the health of freshwater ecosystems through linking freshwater conservation and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

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2020 Achievements, Lessons and Plans for 2021: ABCG Freshwater Conservation and WASH Task Lead Shares

In December 2020, the ABCG FW-WASH task lead, Colleen Sorto, who is also the director of development partnerships at Conservation International, shared a special year-end message reflecting on the year that was coming to an end, and the inspiring work that the task group is looking forward to in 2021. In the message, Colleen shared how the task group made significant progress in pushing forward for the integration of freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH) despite the global challenges. In Uganda for example, a mandate was established at the district level to coordinate and create new tools so that water projects can both include consideration for WASH and environmental conservation. In South Africa, the task group received additional budget and funding for their activities from the district government because of the project intervention connection to WASH investment. Watch the 2 minutes video as well as read the transcript below:

Colleen Sorto year-end message

Hi, I’m Colleen Sorto, I’m the director of development partnerships based at Conservation International’s headquarters in the United States, I’m also the ABCG task lead for the theme on integration of freshwater ecosystem conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, also known as WASH. Our task aims to improve the coordination between these two groups of the water sector (freshwater ecosystem conservation and WASH). Our work is focused on field demonstration of successful integrated models, educating community stewards and government champions on these connections, and advocating for policy funding or planning changes to enable integration at a larger scale.

Despite Covid-19, our task members still had some great achievement in 2020. In South Africa, the Conservation South Africa method of clearing alien invasive plants, which both support natural resource management strategies but also increase the availability of water, received additional budget and funding from the district government because of its connection to WASH investment.

In Uganda a mandate was established at the district level to coordinate and create new tools so that water projects can both include consideration for WASH and environmental conservation.

These achievements would not have been possible without our previous efforts with local communities to demonstrate what this looks like in practice.

In 2021, we are going to be releasing a lessons learned report that outlines additional learning from the advocacy process which we hope others in sub-Saharan Africa can benefit from as they also work to improve and promote integrated models of water resource management.

As this year comes to a close and we enter 2021, we sincerely hope to see more conservation and development practitioners adopt integrated approaches to protecting human and ecosystem health. And we hope that our work can continue to inform but also share with practitioners who are looking to grow the FW-WASH community of practice.

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ABCG 2020 Highlights

Photo by Jonathan Petersson from Pexels

2020 has been a challenging year globally. At the same time, it has provided an opportunity to reflect and envision new possibilities for the future of conservation in Africa and beyond. We have been reminded of the great need to live in harmony with nature and to do our best to ensure that biodiversity is protected and preserved for the greater good of all.

A key focus for ABCG this year has been to take a closer look within, and explore our value and niche in a shifting conservation landscape so as to develop a stronger and more sustainable collaboration. We reflect on some of our accomplishments and challenges in this newsletter, ABCG 2020 Highlights

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How ABCG is Implementing Community Forestry in the Democratic Republic of Congo: WRI’s Natural Resources Policy Specialist Explains

Prince Baraka Lucungu, WRICommunity-Based Forest Management (CBFM) is the management, by communities or smallholders, of forests and agroforests they own, as well as the management of state-owned forests (some of which share customary tenure and rights under traditional laws and practice) by communities. The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) through its CBFM thematic working group is implementing the Community-Based Forest Management project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CBFM builds upon ABCG’s previous work on community forests under the Land and Resource Tenure Rights thematic area and is being implemented by ABCG members, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI).

ABCG talked to Prince Baraka, Natural Resources Policy Specialist at WRI to find out more about the project.

1. What is the importance of CBFM in DRC?

DRC is a country endowed with high forest cover with more than a half of the remaining Congo Basin rainforest found in the region (WRI). According to the World Bank, the Congo Basin rainforest is the second-largest tropical forest on Earth and comprises of about 70% of Africa’s forest cover. These forest’s ecosystem products and services supports the livelihoods of millions of people who live in these areas and beyond making CBFM an important management aspect.

In Community-Based Forest Management, the community takes greater ownership in the management and governance of the forests. With limited state resources for forestry management due to the country’s socio-political and socio-economic situation, implementing this project in DRC offers a cheaper and more effective approach to manage forests. Secondly, state governance of forest resources has proven to be challenging and inadequate in ensuring sustainability of forests. It is also a strategy for reducing poverty and improving conservation by empowering communities to manage their forest resources directly.

“Community forestry is an opportunity to explore conservation out of protected areas, and should be used as a tool to improve local governance and the well-being of forests” Prince Baraka

2. What strategy is the project employing in implementing CBFM in DRC?

We are employing two strategies, the first one looks at promoting and understanding best practices in the implementation of CBFM management plans in DRC for improved conservation outcomes. In this, we are trying to encourage a way of valuing community forestry as a conservation tool and equally as a local development tool. The second strategy focuses on better understanding the impacts of CBFM on forest cover in different landscapes through analysis of satellite imagery and other spatial data across diverse CBFM scenarios.

3. Tell us about some of the approaches you are employing in implementing the strategies.

We have been working on enabling the appropriate policy environment that supports CBFM. To this end, we collaborated with DRC’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and other partners, to develop the Ministerial Decree No. 025 which was signed into law in February 2016. It provides rules governing concession management by forest communities. In 2018 and 2019, WRI supported in the development of another Ministerial order which allowed the environment ministry to create a steering committee for the national strategy on community forestry in DRC. Additionally, we have been working on bringing institutional support and involvement in the development of important model tools such as legal frameworks that would support the implementation of CBFM. Further, we have developed an important guide for managing community forests in DRC, titled ‘Guide opérationnel d’élaboration des plans simples de gestion des concessions forestières des communautés locales’.

4. Elaborate further on the guide, ‘Guide opérationnel d’élaboration des plans simples de gestion des concessions forestières des communautés locales’ and its significance to the success of CBFM.

The name of the guide loosely translates to ‘Guide for the elaboration of simple management plans for forest concessions of local communities’ in English. The guide is a reference tool to assist Local Community Forest Concession (CFCL) user groups to set clear goals for management that will improve quality of life of communities whose forests constitute reserves of biodiversity and forest-dependent livelihoods. This offers an opportunity for them to engage in the project activities thereby being the core actors in managing their resources. The guide was developed by WRI (with co-financing from USAID CARPE SCAEMPS program) in collaboration with the Division of Community Forestry and was validated by stakeholders in Kinshasa, DRC in May 2019. In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, translation of the guide into local languages is ongoing. It will serve as the basis for WRI-led distribution to local actors and awareness raising on its application.

5. What are the positive outcomes witnessed as a result of using the guide and model tools developed?

One successful outcome has been the acceptance and validation of the guide by the highest political level, the Minister of Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and communities in Maniema and Kwilu Provinces. The adoption of these model tools has further led to an increase in the number of community forests attained, efficiency in administration service delivery in the provinces, and governance processes are now improved and harmonized.

6. What is the value-add to community members being involved in the project and in which provinces is CBFM being implemented?

By being involved in CBFM activities, community members make actors aware of their needs and concerns. This helps in the design and delivery of interventions that are beneficial to community members such as establishment of Local Community Forest Concession governance structures. Secondly, it enables communities to realize the importance of biodiversity conservation through their active involvement in the whole process of implementing the simple management plan. Lastly, involving communities promotes responsibility, better management of community forests, resource efficiency and reduces management costs for the government and partners as the activities are done by community members themselves. The CBFM project is being carried out in several provinces namely Maniema, Maindombe, Kwilu, Tshopo, Tshuapa, Mongala, North-Kivu and Equateur.

7. Who are some of your local partners in implementing CBFM in DRC?

The partnerships we form are critical for the success of our work, in implementing CBFM, we have partnered with Groupe d’Action pour Sauver l’Homme et son Environnement (GASHE) in Equateur, Réseau pour la Conservation et la Réhabilitation des Ecosystèmes Forestiers (Réseau CREF) in North Kivu, Centre d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts Tropicales (CAGDFT) and Conseil pour la défense environnementale par la légalité et la traçabilité (CODELT).

8. What are the challenges faced in implementing this project?

Encountering resistance from local communities who refuse to let go of their land can pose a big challenge to this work. Resistance can also come from movements of environmental civil society organizations who regards this process as a dispossession of communities from their land. Therefore, it is difficult to create community forests under the status of a national park, as this option is negatively perceived by the communities. This explains why we are moving more and more towards the creation of reserves and community conservation areas, because it is essential to have the support of local communities who customarily own their forests. Currently, with a view to guaranteeing the preservation of biodiversity, the forest concessions of local communities are considered to be an opportunity to extend conservation areas outside protected areas.

9. Which technique is WRI using to reach and engage with communities during this period of the
COVID-19 pandemic?

WRI staff now have less interaction with the communities and other partners due to the set COVID-19 guidelines. Communication challenges as a result of limited internet access further makes it difficult to engage with the communities as well as implement the planned activities on the ground. To continue our operations during this period, we are working more closely with local NGOs who are able to reach the communities and incorporate the use of the tools we helped to develop.

10. What would you recommend other actors to put emphasis on to ensure the success of CBFM?

It is important for all actors to ensure that community forestry effectively contributes to biodiversity conservation and local development particularly by promoting the local economic fabric through enhancement of natural resources. Promoting the economic benefits to communities is important in increasing the economic value of community forests that contributes to better management of the natural resources.

To learn more about essentials of making community forestry work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, read, In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 3 Essentials for Making Community Forestry Work, by WRI.

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Translating On-The-Ground Successes into Policy Action: Advocating For Integrated Freshwater Conservation and WASH in Uganda

ABCG FWWASH Workshop held in Uganda on October 2020JGI Robert Atugonza presenting a progress report on the FW-WASH project to the workshop participants during training of the Sectoral Committee in Masindi, Uganda on the tools developed to integrate FW-WASH. Photo credit: Edirisa Isabirye

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) aims to reduce watershed degradation and pollution by linking Freshwater conservation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (FW-WASH), thereby improving the health of freshwater ecosystems. ABCG’s FW-WASH task group is applying FW-WASH integration tools that have been developed over the course of the project to engage local community actors in development activities. These activities are geared at mitigating impacts and provide compensation for biodiversity loss to deliver positive conservation outcomes.

The project is now translating on-the-ground successes in policy action and have developed key advocacy resources to advance this work to the next level. One key tool being used by the task group is the ‘Freshwater Conservation and WASH Advocacy Strategy Workshop Facilitator’s Guide’. This guide lays out steps that conservation, WASH, development and conservation practitioners can use to develop an effective advocacy strategy that can enable them deliver positive conservation outcomes. This guide was developed by IRC and ABCG members (Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Conservation International). In addition to the advocacy strategy guide, the task group has developed guidelines and tools for integrating Environmental Conservation into FW-WASH activities. These tools include: i) Environment impact monitoring form, ii) Environmental and social management plan, iii) Environment certificate; and iv) Reporting (screening) tool on WASH.

In Uganda’s Hoima and Masindi District, JGI is using these resources to translate on-the-ground successes into policy action. JGI Uganda with the help of the local communities is advocating for the inclusion of integrated FW-WASH in planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting by the District Water Council.

JGI Uganda conducted a workshop in October 13-14, 2020 that was aimed at sensitizing, training and enrolling political leadership of the district as FW-WASH champions who appreciates the need of conserving freshwater ecosystems. And secondly, to secure approval of the tools to integrate environmental conservation into WASH activities developed by ABCG in 2019 and later on adopted by the Works and Technical Services Committee (DWSSC). This was intended to develop a consensus on the need to present a policy proposal to the District Council that will guarantee Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) actions in all capital development projects implemented by the district.

ABCG FWWASH workshop field visit Uganda Oct2020This workshop targeted the Masindi District Production, Natural Resources, Works and Technical services Communities (DPNRWTSC) and District Technical Staff who will implement the FW-WASH tools once approved by the District Council. The participants took part in workshop discussions and a field visit to have a practical experience of how the tools will be used. They visited two sites, a protected spring in Pakanyi Sub County and a borehole in Mirya Sub County which have WASH infrastructure. This presented an opportunity to pretest the planning and monitoring tools whereby each team member was asked to identify the environmental impacts of the infrastructure and their mitigation measures.

Activities conducted during the workshop resulted in the Sectoral Committee approving the tools. Secondly, it was resolved that the tools be presented to the District Executive Committee and Council for a policy to be developed.

With these advocacy efforts, ABCG hopes to be able to put in place a district level mandate for FW-WASH, mechanisms for coordination, and tools to facilitate the delivery of water projects that include both WASH and environmental conservation.

Read more about ABCG’s efforts to integrate FW-WASH:

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