In March, 2018, Vital Signs in collaboration with Strong Roots Congo organized a stakeholder workshop in Bukavu, DRC. The workshop brought together various stakeholders to understand baseline data needs for sustainable agriculture, livelihoods and biodiversity conservation .This work is funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The data assessment once completed, will be used to inform programs and the government on sustainable farmer livelihood interventions in DRC as part of the Packard. The information which will be presented in form of an online Atlas will help users to understand where the food security and livelihood improvement investment needs are greatest, where returns are likely to be maximized and where the change in land use must be managed in a way that conserves key natural capital that supports rural livelihoods and biodiversity
The Workshop which was officially opened by Mr. Dieudonne Mupanda, the Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Agriculture, livestock and Fishery in South Kivu brought together 28 participants from key government, research and non-government institutions working in eastern DRC.
During the workshop, participants were taken through an in-depth review of the draft baseline assessment atlas which integrates key existing datasets around the broad themes of agriculture, livelihoods and biodiversity. Participants then gave their inputs on the information and decision needs that the atlas could help address. The needs were presented around various broad themes including agriculture, fisheries, livestock, livelihood systems, conservation and protected areas.
The participants noted that although there still remains gaps in research and data collection for decision making, some institutions including the Catholic University of Bukavu, Ministry of Agriculture, The Centre de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN) as well as international non-governmental institutions like GIZ, WWF, FAO and UNICEF form useful sources of data on nutrition,agricultural production, climate variability among others; while NGOs working in conservation in the region such as the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) hold useful data for biodiversity conservation.
It was noted that most of the data however needed to be digitized to increase its usability and the baseline atlas could help in filling this gap. The online atlas will also be useful in informing cross sectoral evidence-based planning in DRC, which has previously been hindered by inadequate technical capacities and lack of data integration