Project to Support the Expanded Natural Resource Management Training Programme in the Congo Basin: Season's greetings

 

Dear Friends and Partners of the PEFOGRN-BC (Project to Support the Expanded Natural Resource Management Training Programme in the Congo Basin),

 

As a prelude to this year end review 2014, we firstly like to pay tribute to two visionary figures of international forestry and environmental sciences who have left us. The first is the Emeritus Professor André Lafond, former Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and Geodesy at Université Laval (1971-1979) and Chairman of Research and Forestry Development (FRUL-FRDF) from 1974 to 1995, who passed away on December 3, 2014 in Quebec City at the age of 94. Dr Lafond opened the current Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics to the world forest and the international scene. The second is a Belgian Jesuit missionary, Father Jacques Paulus SJ, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environment at the University of Kinshasa, who died on December 5, 2014 in Brussels at the age of 82. He was successively director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Continuing Education (CIDEP), the Department of environment and the NGO JEEP (urban Home gardens); and co-founder of the Kinduku University village. May the souls of these two pillars of forest and environnemtal sciences rest in peace.

 

The PEFOGRN-BC project

Before presenting the highlights of the PEFOGRN-BC project, let’s recall that the mother FOGRN-BC project was completed at a formal ceremony on December 14, 2013 under the co-presidency of the former Canadian Ambassador to the DRC, Mr. Jean-Carol Pelletier, and the Academic Secretary General of the University of Kinshasa, Professor Prosper Kanyankogote Mpagazehe, acting on behalf of the Rector. Attendees to the closing day ceremony were the project beneficiaries represented by Dr Ibrahim Sambo (RIFFEAC coordinator), Professor Yacouba Manjeli (former Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy and Agricultural Sciences, University of Dschang), Mr Armand Yvon Mengome Ango (Deputy Director General ENEF-Gabon), Prof. Claude Kachaka (former Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Kinshasa, FASA-Unikin), Professor Jean-Pierre Mate (academic Secretary of the Post-Graduate School on Integrated Management of Tropical Forests and Lands, ERAIFT), Reverend Father Michel Ntangu Kinsau (Director General of the agro-veterinary higher Institute, ISAV-Kimwenza ) and Father Matthieu Mwila (Director General of the Higher Institute of agronomic Studies, ISEA-Tshela). Université Laval acting as the Canadian accompanying agency for this project was represented by the Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics (FFGG), Prof Robert Beauregard, along with Professor Damase Khasa, Dr. François Marquis and Dr. Gilles Cotteret.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), which funded the project was represented by Ms. Sandra Choufani, Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at the Canadian Embassy in Kinshasa and Mr. Vincent Makaya, director of the support Unit of the Canadian cooperation in the DRC. GIZ, a strategic partner for the local co-financing was represented by Mr. Martin Makumbu Nsaka, coordinator of the support unit of the 2020 Strategy and Mrs Sarah Mambu Nzinga, technical expert in formal training and pedagogical integration of ITC of the Biodiversity and Forests Programme (PBF)/GIZ. In recognition of the involvement of teachers and support staff at Université Laval for achieving these innovative results in the field of training and research, the FOGRN-BC project team organized at Université Laval a closing day ceremony on April 11, 2014.

 

The overall objective of the project to support the Expanded Natural Resource Management Training Programme in the Congo Basin (PEFOGRN-BC) is to enhance training and research activities in order to reduce deforestation and degradation of natural resources in the Congo Basin. After its official launching  in Yaoundé from the 4th to the 9th, of July 2011 with the attendance of all beneficiary partners and under the co-presidency of the COMIFAC executive Secretary, Mr Raymond Mbitikon and the Task manager and forest and climate expert - CBBF- OSAN, M. Pierre Nguinda, the project officially ended December 31, 2014. The Forestry and Environment Training Network of Central Africa (RIFFEAC) implemented the project, with funding from the Congo Basin forest fund (CBFF), administered by the African Development Bank (AfDB). Focal points in Africa, faculty and support staff in Africa and Canada, the direction and the steering committee at Unversité Laval, the coordination at RIFFEAC, the implementation unit of PEFOGRN-BC project and the staff of the Congo Basin forest fund and of the Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have played a key role in achieving the success that we celebrate together in year 2014. A big Thank you to all.

 

At the end of the project, Université Laval and the Teaching and Forestry Research Centre of Sainte-Foy Inc. (CERFO) have worked together to deliver the expected results of the project. CERFO delivered 11 technical training programs: 3 programs of technical officers (forest operations, wood industry, wildlife conservation), 3 programs  of technical engineers (forest operations, wood industry, wildlife conservation), 5 programs of senior technician certificates (forest operations, wood industry, wildlife conservation, industrial carpentry, electro-mechanics). Université Laval has delivered two university license training programs (forestry operations and wood industry) as well as three research master's programs (agroforestry and ecosystem services at U. Dschang, forest policy and governance at Unikin, Wood Science at ENEF-Gabon), a professional master's program in forest policy and governance at Unikin and a Master's programme in Process Wood Engineering. The harmonized programs will be formally adopted by the ministerial authorities of the sub-region in 2015.

Following the training and recruitment mission  for postgraduate students (PhD and MSc levels) from beneficiary institutions that was completed between the 20  and 26 of November 2011, at the Regional Centre for Special Education in Agriculture Forest-Wood (CRESA Forest-Wood), Yaoundé, with the active participation of two canadians (professor André Desrochers et Dr Marc Mazerolle), the RIFFEAC Coordinateur (Dr Ibrahim Sambo) and the whole team of the PEFOGRN-BC project in Yaoundé, ten PhD students and three master's students are being trained at Université Laval since fall 2012, with a completed master's in August 2014. Thirty-one other master students and nine doctoral students are doing their graduate studies in reference institutions of the sub-region (ERAIFT, University of Dschang, University of Kinshasa, ENEF-Gabon). All students shall have completed their graduate studies between 2015 and 2016.

 

Other project products were also delivered: 1) Construction of 6 new fully equipped buildings (Garoua Wildlife School in Cameroon, National School of Waters and Forests–Mbalamayo in Cameroon, National School of Forestry of Mossendjo in Congo,  National School of Waters and Forests of Cap Esterias in Gabon, Higher Institute of Agricultural studies-Tshela in DRC, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University KASA VUBU in DRC); 2) Rehabilitation and improvement of 8 buildings and laboratory infrastructure (Higher Institute of Agricultural studies-Gitega in Burundi, Faculty of Agronomy and Agricultural Sciences-University of Dschang in Cameroon, CRESA Forest-Woodin Cameroon, National School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences in Congo, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Kinshasa in DRC, ERAIFT in DRC, Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management in Rwanda, Higher Institute of Rural Development Mbaïki in CAR); 3) IT equipment (computers, printers, copiers, laptops, projectors) provided to all 20 beneficiary institutions; 4) Five 4x4 vehicles and one minibus; 5) a minimum laboratory kit for 16 recipient institutions; 6) a library kit of textbooks for all 20 beneficiaries including a world reference textbook book on tropical agroforestry translated into French from the English version 'Tropical Agroforestry' by Alain Atangana, Damase Khasa, Scott Chang and Anne Degrande, published by the internationally well renowned scientific publishing house Springer; 7) three issues published of the new RIFFEAC scientific journal 'Forest and Environment in the Congo Basin'; 8) two funded calls for research proposals; 9) development and implementation of six training modules; 10) organizations of at least three training workshops (Quantum GIS and Tropical Carbon Management in collaboration with Laval, Accounting in collaboration with a Cameroonian private consulting company).

 

In support to the project management, CERFO and Laval participated in Douala-Cameroon from June 30 to July 4, 2014 at the meeting of steering committee chaired by the Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Mr. Raymond Mbitikon, as well as at the meeting of the Technical Committee Project Monitoring (CTSP) and the General Assembly of RIFFEAC. CERFO and Laval also participated from 10 to 24 October 2014 at the mission completion of the project in Yaounde-Cameroon, led by Pierre Nguinda  from the AfDB. The overall objective of the mission was to evaluate the actions necessary for the completion of the PEFOGRN-BC project, implemented by the RIFFEAC, with expected disbursement rate of 100% at the project closing date due on December  31, 2014.

 

2) New Partnerships

Laval is a member of the Academic Consortium for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (ACCBFP) created in 2014 and whose current members are: Drexel University (USA), Laval University (Canada), University of California at Los Angeles (USA), University of Maryland (USA), University of New Orleans (USA), University of Oregon (USA), University of South Florida (USA), and University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA (USA). The goal of the consortium is to collaborate with partners in the Congo Basin on projects related to biodiversity, conservation, education and sustainable development in the CB. The ACCBFP organized an information event on October 7 on the sidelines of the 14th Meeting of partners (MOP) of Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) in Brazzaville-Congo from 7 to 11 October 2014 on the theme ‘Climate and Land Use in Central Africa: Opportunities and challenges’. This event allowed the ACCBFP to present the various work of its members and learn from African and European regional partners on their priorities for conservation and sustainable development in Central Africa.

 

3) Coordination and Project Management

At Laval: Marie-France Gévry took over the coordination of international training projects from Dr. Gilles Cotteret who now works for the Geological Survey of Canada. We thank Dr. Cotteret for his invaluable services as a project coordinator from 2011 to 2013. At RIFEAC:  Mr Romeo Junior Fogaing assured his position as project manager until July 2014 while Ms. Desiree Nkinkwa continuous her function as technical advisor ITTO / RIFFEAC, responsible for communication. Dr. Ibrahim Sambo has continued to assure the regional coordonnation since 2011. At ENEF-Gabon: Pending the appointment of a new Director general, PhD student at Université Laval, Armand Yvon Mengome Ango continued to ensure the Deputy Director General function. Professors Eric Nsumbu and Mvondo Ze Antoine David were appointed deans of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of Unikin and the faculty of Agronomy and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Dschang, respectively. Dr. Hiol Hiol was appointed Director of CRESA Forest-Wood while Dr Marie-Louise Avana is now the chief of the Research Master’s in agroforestry and ecosystem services at the University of Dschang. Moreover, the managers of other partner institutions remained in place.

4) Communication strategy and project visibility

The project websites (http://www.projetfogrn-bc.ulaval.ca/ and www.riffeac.org) have been regularly revised and updated to serve as virtual media. They are subjected to continued update by the support unit of the project at Laval and RIFFEAC, respectively. Since August 20, 2012, Laval has become one among some 80  members of the CBFP. Indeed, Laval through the Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics has directly contributed and continues to contribute during the last four decades to the cross-cutting theme on training/capacity building of the revised convergence plan of COMIFAC. As a regular member, Laval actively participatedwith RIFFEAC in organizing the Information market on Forestry and Environmental training for sustainable development in the Congo Basin: Results Innovative field projects "Training" the RIFFEAC at the 14th MOP of PFBC in Brazzaville-Congo from 7 to 11 October 2014,facilitated by the US Goverment.

 

5) Conclusion

Overall, the implementation of PEFOGRN-BC has allowed the achievement of expected results at the end of the project on December 31, 2014. A second phase of the project to support the Expanded Natural Resource Management Training Programme in the Congo Basin-Support for the effective, efficient and equitable (G3E) of REDD + in the Congo basin for sustinable development, is under development.On behalf of the whole project team at Laval, CERFO, the RIFFEAC coordination and all our partners in the Congo basin, Canada and elsewhere, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your nears a peaceful, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2015.

 

Sincerely yours

Damase Khasa, Professor and PEFOGRN-BC project Chief,

Université Laval

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