EEEGL stands for Enterprise, Environment and Equity in the Virunga Landscape of the Great Lakes, a densely populated area of high biodiversity on the border regions where the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda meet.  We are a joint venture of CARE International and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP).

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP): Since 1991, IGCP has brought together the three protected area authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, along with numerous other partners, to support the long-term conservation of the approximately 680 remaining mountain gorillas and their forest habitat in Virunga Massif and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest regions of East and Central Africa where they range.  IGCP is a consortium of three leading international conservation organizations, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  IGCP’s unique partnership works directly with the communities in this growing and ever-changing region through a regional landscape-level approach to tackle the challenge of conserving gorilla populations and their habitat while also creating livelihood opportunities for the human populations that live near the protected areas and also call the region home.

CARE: CARE is one of the world’s largest international humanitarian organizations, committed to helping families in poor communities improve their lives and achieve lasting victories over poverty. The EEEGL programme involves the three country offices of CARE in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The programme is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF). Established in 1999, HGBF’s primary mission is to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations.

The EEEGL Project has intervened in a number of areas in Uganda and Rwanda, working at multiple levels and sectors to improve enterprise, environment and equity in areas around the mountain gorilla parks. The following technical briefs have been developed and can be viewed or downloaded from this page. Also view the EEEGL Documents page for all learning documents produced from this project.

Our Goal

The program targets the Virunga Landscape, a region that straddles Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) . This is a densely populated, mountainous area where livelihoods of local people are largely dependent on agricultural production and natural resources.

At the heart of this landscape are the natural forests of the Virunga Volcanoes that lie on the borders of the Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC, and the large Bwindi forest. These forests make a major contribution to local livelihoods: they regulate the water cycle across a large catchment. They are protected as national parks: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda; Parc National de Virunga in DRC; and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. These forests are the habitat of the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorilla tourism and associated enterprises generate revenues for the three countries and the neighboring population.

The EEEGL program is designed as five year initiative and commenced in January 2007. It seeks to achieve the following objective by the end of Year five:

Increased livelihood opportunities based on sustainable use of natural resources, and improved governance of these resources, have made a substantial contribution to poverty reduction and environmental conservation in the Virunga landscape of the transboundary region of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in particular benefiting the more marginalized and vulnerable groups in the population of this region.

Our Approach

EEEGL is an integrated conservation and development programme: it seeks to link the conservation of protected areas with the development of the neighboring rural region. This link is based on the economic benefits of protected areas (sustainable management of natural resources and tourism). It also seeks to link conservation (within and outside protected areas) to mainstream development processes, such as local and regional level development planning, regional transboundary collaboration, development of agriculture market linkages and the growth of the role of civil society in each country.

The strategy we have conceived and keep adapting with our partners is inspired by a number of principles:

  • Our work needs to be sensitive to the causes of existing and latent conflicts: the actions need to contribute to reducing the likelihood of conflict (for example, between conservation strategies and livelihoods needs; among institutions pursuing different development policies; among different social groups over the control of natural resources, etc.).
  • The natural landscape knows no national boundaries: gorillas, waters, forests, and even people’s economic activities do not stop at national borders. The three countries have long established a system of transboundary collaboration that we also support, to tackle issues or initiatives of shared interest.
  • The landscape knows no sector boundaries: the effects of conservation actions, rural development actions, policy reforms and local livelihoods are all intertwined in driving the future of this region. A landscape approach to regional conservation  and development means building collaboration and linkages across the several sectors of work.
  • At the root of conflicts in the region, like elsewhere, are the abuse of power, the denial of human rights, and a culture of impunity.  We believe that the empowerment of marginalized and vulnerable groups to assert their interests and rights is a crucial factor in the positive impact of development policies and initiatives in their communities.

    Themes of Work

    The program is designed around four major themes, each of which comprises two to four sub-themes:

    1. Enterprise:
      1. Non-ecotourism-based enterprise: support for communities in increasing market access for their agricultural and natural resource-based products, targeting regional as well as local and national markets, and enhancing productivity and value added through processing.
      2. Microfinance: support for the creation of village savings and loan associations. This activity will specifically target women and will also contribute to women’s empowerment.
      3. Ecotourism-based enterprise: support for community-based enterprises linked to tourism and private sector-led ecotourism initiatives that will generate substantial community benefits.
    2. Participatory natural resource management:
      1. Collaborative and community-based natural resources management: support for the development and strengthening of community participation in protected area (national park) management (collaborative management), community-based management of natural resources outside protected areas, and associated opportunities for sustainable utilization of natural resources.
      2. Tourism revenue sharing: support for mechanisms for sharing tourism revenues with local communities that are effective in strengthening conservation and equitable in delivering benefits to those most affected by the costs of conservation.
    3. Community empowerment:
      1. Organization strengthening: strengthening grassroots civil society organizations in terms of their ability to promote good governance both in government and within their own organizations, emphasizing the interests and rights of women and other marginalized and vulnerable groups.
      2. Influencing policy: building the capacity of grassroots civil society organizations to influence policy development and decision-making on natural resource management and other key concerns, emphasizing the interests and rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups.
    4. Trans-boundary collaboration and learning:
    1. Transboundary collaboration: support for trans-boundary collaboration within and outside the protected areas that promotes sharing of information and experience, coordination, and joint action with respect to protected area management, ecotourism, participatory/community-based natural resource management, and conflict management.
    2. Action learning: effective monitoring and evaluation of project activities together with specific events to review experience on key themes, supporting an adaptive management approach that enables project strategy to be guided by learning plus wider dissemination of learning.