Musanze-Officials from Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, yesterday, began a three-day field tour to assess the implementation and impact of community projects along the national parks within the Virunga Massif zone.
The officials from Rwanda Development Board-RDB, Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA, and Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la nature-ICCN, under the Trans boundary Core Secretariat and the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration-GVTC, visited the Rwf 300 million community commercial complex in Kinigi.
The complex was constructed with support from GVTC in partnership with RDB. It will serve as a centre for arts and crafts, where the park community would sell their handcrafts besides becoming a tourist attraction.
The Head of Tourism and Conservation in RDB, Rica Rwigamba, said the projects will not only improve the livelihood of the people around the park, but also help to conserve the region’s unique biodiversity.
“The visit acquaints us with how the communities are benefiting, the challenges and the way forward.
The projects will help in conservation and tourism development because it’s a way of uplifting the lives of the community around,’’ Rwigamba said.
During a tour of Volcanoes National Park, the team also visited a bamboo propagation site, bamboo crafts centre and bee keeping cooperative supported by IGCP.
The Coordinator of Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, Samuel Mwandha, said that the support aims at improving the livelihood of the communities around the park, which is part of a bigger project aimed at involving communities in conservation and tourism.
“These should help to generate incomes, and make people move away from harvesting resources from the park, like the bamboo, honey and poaching,” he said.