24 Nov 2015

Collaboration to enhance management of transboundary ecosystems launched

Left to right: Hon. Jesca Eriyo, Hon. Shem Bageine and Patricia Zurita shake hands after signing the MoU ©Chris Magero
By BirdLife International

BirdLife International and the East African Community have joined forces to promote the protection of the environment, conservation of key transboundary ecosystems, and sustainable utilization of natural resources in the Eastern Africa region.

Under the new partnership, BirdLife International and the East African Community will collaborate in, among others:

a)    Protection, conservation and sustainable management of critical transboundary ecosystems, including wetlands, lakes and forests.  This will involve generating and availing information necessary for decision making on the sites, species, ecosystem services and landscapes that require conservation and management, what approaches would be appropriate for each situation and how stakeholders from the local communities, government, private sector and civil society can be brought on board.

b)    Implementation and monitoring of specific projects to address degradation of natural resources and ecosystems, empowerment of stakeholders of  riparian states, including local communities to participate in natural resources management; and generation of sustainable, tangible and equitably shared benefits;

c)    Information sharing including tools, best practices and guidance that support sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources and knowledge and skills exchange within East Africa among Government agencies, private sector, civil society organisations and local communities;

d)    Capacity building for the sustainable management of the environment, natural resources and critical ecosystems, especially where transboundarymanagement of resources is necessary.

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The partnership was announced during the Pearl of Africa International Tourism Expo byHon. Jesca Eriyo,Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors of the East African Community and Ms Patricia Zurita,Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife International,.  They signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations at an auspicious occasion attended by over 200 people including the Chairman and the Executive Director of Nature Uganda (BirdLife in Uganda) and witnessed by Hon. Shem Bageine, Uganda’s Minister of State in charge of East African Affairs.

“The East African Community recognizes the important role of Civil Society Organisations in delivering its mandate to achieve fast, balanced and sustainable development of the region including conservation of the environment”,  said Hon. Jesca Eriyo. “This partnership brings valuable experience of BirdLife International in addressing the challenges of balancing local and national interests with the regional aspirations in order to attain truly sustainable development.”

BirdLife has led participatory development of high level strategic plans for the rational management of biodiversity in the region taking into account key ecosystem services. The first one targets the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot and the second one considers the watersheds in the Great Lakes region.  These strategies are guiding the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and the MacArthur Foundation in investing millions of dollars in the region for periods ranging from five to tenyears.

“Within the framework of the partnership announced today, ongoing and future activities of BirdLife and the Partnersin the region will be aligned to and reported against theEast African Community Strategic plan,” said Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife Regional Director for Africa.  These Partners are Association Burundaise pour la protection de la Nature (ABN, BirdLife in Burundi), Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR, BirdLife in Rwanda), Nature Kenya (BirdLife in Kenya) and Nature Uganda (BirdLife in Uganda).

BirdLife is active on the ground addressing the sustainable management of transboundary ecosystems in the region.  For example, over the past seven years, BirdLife together with other stakeholders have been engaging with the governments of Kenya and Tanzania to promote sustainable development of Lake Natron and its catchment.  Through detailed valuation and cost-benefit studies, and awareness raising on the long term costs and benefits of different development options, a potentially very damaging soda ash extraction project on Lake Natron was averted in favour of improved tourism and pastoralism.

“I urge the parties to take seriously the responsibilities agreed today, particularly in as far as they relate to sustainability and equity in the use of the region’s abundant natural resources,” said Hon. Shem Bageine, Uganda’s Minister of State in charge of East African Affairs. “We owe it to our people now, as well as the future generations”, he concluded.

For further information, contact:

1.    Achilles Byaruhanga, Executive Director, Nature Uganda. Achilles Byaruhanga

2.    Paul Matiku, Executive Director, Nature Kenya. Paul Matiku

3.    Serge Joram Nsengimana, Executive Director, ACNR Rwanda. Serge Nsengimana

4.    Charles Rugerinyange, Executive Director, ABN Burundi. Charles Rugerinyage

5.    Ken Mwathe, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat, Ken Mwathe

6.    Owora Richard Othieno, Head of Department; 
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs; Tel: +254 737 493755, +255 784 835021; Email: ;


The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) provides funding for civil society to address priority issues within biodiversity hotspots.  BirdLife leads the Regional Implementation Team for CEPF investment in the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot

The MacArthur Foundation under is Conservation and Sustainable Development Programme has committed USD 176 million for nature conservation.  A part of this goes into the Great Lakes Region of Eastern Africa.  BirdLife supported MacArthur in developing a strategy to guide its investment in the conservation of nature and ecosystem services in the Great Lakes