The Water4Virungas (W4V) is a multi-year project that aims to reduce conflict in the Volcanos landscape in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda by increasing access to water, improved watershed management and improved community dialog. Witteveen+Bos together with its partners MDF Training & Consultancy (Lead Partner), Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) are carrying out the project for the Dutch Embassy in Rwanda.

The Virunga landscape is famous for the mountain gorillas that live at high altitudes in nature conservation parks. The Volcanos mountains are characterized as a wet region. However due to the nature of the geology in the area rainwater infiltrates into the porous volcanic rocks at the higher altitudes of the mountains which causes water sources to be scarce at the higher altitudes, especially the areas bordering the Virunga National Park area. As a result, the local population is illegally entering the Virunga National Park to obtain water from small sources and swamps.

In order to achieve the project goals a series of sub-projects have been identified and carried out in the 3 countries. Since 2017 more than 20 sub-projects have been carried out, below is a summary of the works carried out:

  • Rehabilitation of more than 50 rainwater harvesting tanks (5m³);
  • The construction of over 600 rainwater harvesting tanks (5-30m³);
  • The construction of more than 50km of drinking water pipelines;
  • The construction of more than 10 large cattle troughs;
  • Planting of over 3 million trees and grass stubs (erosion reduction measures);
  • Capacity building regarding drinking water management, agricultural best practices and erosion reduction that has reached more than 38,000 people.

The W4V team is extensive and includes experts from different countries and with a wide range of different expertise’s. The work was completed in 2021.

Sara Kigongo, Community Engagement Expert Uganda, explains: 'It’s a great opportunity for me to join the efforts in making it possible for communities to have sustainable access to safe, clean water and conservation in the W4V target communities. As the Project Officer for the Water4Virungas project in Uganda, I see community participation, ownership, proper governance, and maintenance of the water facilities alongside supportive community conservation efforts as a key aspect that will trigger transformation and development at both household and community level. Talk about water – any small amount of water – in an area which has no single natural source of water and you will hear all kinds of stories and experiences from long ago. You will have the support and commitment of every woman, man, child, leader and partner from every corner of the world with experience in water in the communities surrounding MGNP. A place where a 20-litre jerrycan of water goes for almost 1 USD during the dry season creates conflicts between communities and conservation agencies.'

In October 2017, the project was officially launched in Congo and Uganda. The specific responsibilities of Witteveen+Bos are performing a data inventory, selecting intervention areas, producing designs, conducting a technical feasibility assessment, organising surveys, preparing tender documents, supervising the performance of work, and taking care of technical training and management.

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