The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in collaboration with USAID Kenya and East Africa and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have officially launched a regional project to enhance the management and conservation of natural resources in East Africa.

The project titled ‘Conservation and Management of Natural Capital in East Africa (CONNECT) was launched during a two day stakeholders meeting on 29 – 30 October 2019 in Nairobi Kenya.

The project is funded by USAID Kenya and East Africa and aims to improve collaborative conservation and management of transboundary natural resources, reduce wildlife poaching and trafficking, and increase the perceived value of living wildlife.

Speaking at the launch, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo - Deputy Secretary General for Productive and Social Sectors of the EAC Secretariat said that conservation of natural resources across boundaries requires strong collaboration and harmonization of national and regional plans and policies. “This Program is crucial as it will amongst other things support multi-sectoral policy dialogues in the region,” said Hon. Bazivamo.

The USAID Environment Director for East Africa, Aurelia Micko noted that nature based tourism contributes to between 7.5% and 10% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The time is right

“Effective conservation and management of natural resources in the East African Community is crucial to the region’s long-term economic growth and development, and its journey to self-reliance. This new project will strengthen the EAC’s capacity to conserve natural resources across East Africa and fulfil USAID’s and EAC’s mutual development objectives,” said Aurelia.

“While this region is blessed with rich biodiversity and natural resources that underpin its economic and social fabric, the human dependence on nature and natural resources, the loss of species and ecosystems caused by human activity continues at an alarming rate. Cooperation at a multinational level is required to jointly address the challenges that impede the achievement of national, regional and international conservation goals. IUCN is excited to be part of this partnership with the EAC secretariat and USAID,” said Mr. Luther Anukur, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.  

The meeting brought together regional and national stakeholders including policy makers, researchers, non-governmental organizations, private sector representatives and development partners from the EAC region. Participants shared experiences, discussed challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt in the management of natural resources.

Recommendations from the launch were: need for collaboration in existing activities to ensure sustainability of interventions beyond the project life; need to catalyse conservation actions using communications and media; need to involve the youth and women in conservation as they play a critical role in sustainability of conservation initiatives; need to value natural capital and communicate it as an important part of sustainable natural resource policy and management action.

Other projects that will be working in close collaboration with CONNECT are Improving Collaborative Conservation and Management of Transboundary Natural Resources in East African Community implemented by EAC Secretariat; Conserving Natural Capital and Enhancing Collaborative Management of Transboundary Resources in East Africa implemented by IUCN, TRAFFIC and WWF; Economic of Natural Capital in East Africa implemented by Environment Incentives.

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