The Water4Virungas project was launched in 2016 and is a four-year program funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Rwanda. The project is working in close collaboration with stakeholders working in the area with technical improvements, governance and conflict transformation, as well the communities living at the border of the Virunga park in DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
The project area is a densely populated area with civil unrest, conflict and instability, mainly on the DRC side, and with scarce water sources and insufficient organisational and financial capacities of national water policies. The lack of access to drinking water and agricultural activities are root causes of conflicts. People are forced to walk long distances to find water, and sometimes have to cross the borders of the Virunga park or national territories. This leads to conflicts with park authorities, cross-border conflicts and situations of insecurity and health hazards for local people.
MDF Traning and Consultancy is addressing the water scarcity and water governance by working in close collaboration with local authorities and communities constructing and rehabilitating water schemes and rainwater harvesting tanks (both household and communal tanks) throughout the area. The population selected Water User Committees (inclusiveness of all groups and gender) that are linked to each water point, and the members are trained in management and maintenance.
The project is addressing technical improvements in combination with effective organisation of those delivering the services, including stakeholders and the population. These discussions and dialogues are held in a way that their voices are heard and interests and possibilities are taken into account (MultiStakeholder Partnership approach). This will contribute to improved living conditions and more security.
To improve agricultural practices and sustainable food production, Water4Virungas implements an Integrated Farm Planning approach (PIP, from “Plan Intégré du Paysan” in French). Farmer families are empowered to invest in better soils and more resilient farms as well as acceptance by local stakeholders (stewardships) to safeguard land and its natural resources. The PIP approach creates the required solid foundation for achieving resilience-based stewardship: motivated people and healthy land.
Water4Virungas expect to achieve at the end of the project cycle sustainable results through ownership by the entire community and building organisational and financial capacities among stakeholders, that are fully supported by national policies and practices. We believe by facilitating inclusiveness and democratic dialogues between the stakeholders and communities, we have laid the basis for working for improvements and transformation of conflicts. Improvement interventions on water infrastructure and on watershed management are only sustainable and lasting when they go hand in hand with improved service delivery and water governance.
The consortium partners share the vision that integrated water resource management (IWRM) can contribute to more peaceful, healthy and economically stable communities. Together, we represent a wealth of expertise in IWRM, conflict management and capacity development necessary to ensure the successful and sustainable implementation of the programme.
The Water4Virungas has undertaken the framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC), to address transboundary issues related to water and those related to the coexistence of national parks with local communities.