Regionalism was a key concept in the initial design of the project; with governments wanting to see synergies of working together to secure conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity at a variety of levels. This desire preceded the cross border nature of the project; as the first design suggested major forest blocks away from borders. This desire to some extent was based on successes from an earlier GEF Project: Institutional Support for the Conservation of East African Biodiversity, 1992-96.

The evaluation report on the first project had this to say on regionalism. Such co-operation in East Africa in the area of environmental management and biodiversity conservation is particularly effective because the countries form a mega-biodiversity region and either share, or have in common, a variety of ecosystems. The countries should continue to work together on issues of mutual concern, and share and learn from each other’s experience.

The evaluation team believes there will still be major advantages in a regional approach in the future as emphasis switches to field activities and that these advantages are not necessarily dependent on the activities being focused on selected field sites located in trans-boundary areas. On the contrary, wherever there are common ecosystems, common threats, and/or common training needs among the three countries, there will be advantages in regional exchanges of experiences and expertise and sharing of training resources.

Discussions with GEFSec focused attention on cross-border site pairs of forest areas:

·        Swamp Forest: Minziro to Sango Bay (Tz to Ug)

·        Eastern Arc Forest: Taita Hills to South Pare Mts (Ke to Tz)

·        Dry Mountain Forest: Moroto Mts to Turkana Mt. (Ug to Ke)

·        Dry Mountain Forest: Monduli Mts to Namanga (Tz to Ke)


These sites exemplify the three critical factors that GEF belief as essential to approving a regional approach.

·        A shared cross-border ecosystem (the swamp forest)

·        Threats to biodiversity values coming cross border (the mountain forests)

·        Major lessons learned on biodiversity and its conservation (E. Arc).

But to some degree, all sites show considerable linkage to the latter two criteria. 

Regionalism was seen at working at many levels, and in many ways:

·        Firstly, at the forest level and the village/human population level who affect the forest locally, either positively or negatively. People interact across national borders, and forests and forest components go across borders.

·        Secondly, at district level (and we see increasing empowerment of district processes in all three countries). Districts have mandates for conservation - and for conversion. They implement national laws, and set local bylaws. There is a need for compatibility in district approaches.

·        Thirdly, is the national level; where policies are set, and implementation modalities agreed and funded. Again a compatibility of policy approaches is needed. These latter two levels give the "enabling environment" within which this project operates.

·        And, lastly; there is the growing importance of a formal regional level; synergised by the stature of the East African Community, and the environmental articles of the East African Treaty.


The project is active at all of these levels.

The Practice of Regionalism

The Inception Report set out a set of general principles. These were as follows:

Whilst Biodiversity is a sovereign issue, and this project is to be executed nationally, it remains a single cohesive regional project, with a common goal, common objectives, and a common strategy for implementation. 

The importance of regional issues was recognized in UNDP and indeed at the GEF Council. However, there have been concerns about what advantages regional projects bring to actual on ground conservation. For example, the World Bank GEF Unit in reviewing recent eastern Africa regional project concepts drew attention to the difficulty of securing regional co-operation. We copy here a positive note on regional projects from the GEF Council of October 1997.

“From the conceptual point of view we fully agree with the objectives of regional projects. Arising from clear ecological necessities (trans-boundary ecosystems or biological corridors) or from institutional opportunities (regional institutional networks), in most cases the regional projects seem scientifically and technically justified, and conceptually advantageous”. Comments from the GEF Council Member from Switzerland, December 1997.


In terms of project implementation it is necessary that :

a)   All project technical issues are assessed for their regional implications.

b)   Activity reports are shared with cross-border Districts, where relevant.

c)      Time-tabling of activities be coordinated to allow linkages.

d)      Field methodologies etc are similar to allow comparisons.

e)      The East African Cooperation Secretariat is informed of our activities


The project attempts to operate within these principles.

 Experience in this and other regions suggests that strong regionalism can only be built on the basis of strong national foundations. That too is part of our regional philosophy.

An immediate learning lesson came from a project-sponsored workshop on developing regional approaches to the CBD (Convention on Biology Diversity) in January 2000 - as a prelude to the Fifth Conference of Parties. The project was keen to develop a set of regional approaches, but discovered this was not possible until national approaches were in place! We were too early, national positions had not been prepared!

The project supports regional interaction at site and district level; but wants this interaction to be linked to real cross borders issues of biodiversity; and not just a set of generalised discussions. Our task in the past year has been to identify what are these specific cross-border issues, and bring these to the discussion table (eg water abstraction by Tanzania from Namanga Hill Forests). See section blow on local issues.


The Growth of Cross-Border / Trans-Boundary Interest in Conservation  

This project is not alone in working for the conservation of biodiversity at regional level. There are many examples inside GEF (eg Mozambique and Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas) and outside (eg AWF's Heartlands Programme). The Biodiversity Support Programme (US) has produced a detailed set of books looking at Trans-Boundary Natural Resource Management. This project is too help develop a separate set of case studies at East African regional level.

Regionalism in this Cross Borders Project

This is discussed at two levels in this note; national and local.


A) At National Level

Details are given in the Annual Report of the Regional Component; the year 2000 report is attached as an annex to this note. Four issues are described here; focusing on the sustainability of regional activity. This is followed by a discussion of two process issues.


i)        Regional Training Programme for ICD Projects.

The concept is not just to offer training; but to integrate the training within the syllabi and curricula of existing training institutions in the region. Partnerships are being built with other ICDP organisations (WWF and CARE), and with a variety of training institutions- principally MSTC in Arusha and Makerere Forestry faculty. In GEF terminology; the project has leveraged considerable support and mainstreamed biodiversity into regular development courses. (See separate note on leveraging).


ii) Policy and Economics Analysis.  

The project works through contractual agreements with two 'regional' institutions; ACTS  and IUCN-EARO; following an initial scoping or fact finding activity at all cross border sites. The analysis leads not only to a set of technical documents; but also includes training and a practical set of outputs designed as by-laws and guidelines.  

iii) Supporting Regional Linkages

  A recent example was the project support to the annual regional seminar between the three Directors of Forestry. This focused on regional issues with reference to policy, resource valuation, trade and JFM/CFM processes. The Cross-Borders Project was seen to be leading much of the developing knowledge in these fields. (See notes from IUCN).


iv)                The Project and the East African Community

There is synergy and linkage between the EAC and the project, as expressed by the Deputy Secretary-General at several recent fora. The EAC provides political support for regional activity. The project provides support to regional interaction; and provides examples of the advantages of cross-border technical activity. The project sits on the EAC Environment Committee, and provides technical advice and review as needed. EAC is  member of our project Steering Committee.


And, in terms of process:

 v) Regional Interactions: The RTPCs (Regional Technical Committees)

These are the main technical discussion and approval processes in the project. To date there have been 14 such RTPC meetings, involving NPMs, NPCs, RTA, and increasingly FPOs and partners. The RTPCs approve the development of regional activity; and builds linkage between project components. Upwards; the RTPC decisions go to Steering Committees for ratification. (See the minutes of RTPC meetings).


vi) Regional Networking.

This is a major role of the RTA; and covers a wide variety of interaction; including linkages to UNDP processes; technical biodiversity processes (eg the Taita Workshop), information dissemination; and facilitation. These are described in the Annual Reports of the Regional Component, and in detail, in eg the Taita Workshop Report of Nov. 2000.




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