On Friday 16th January 2015, Burundi became head of COMIFAC (Central African Forests Commission). Burundi faces many challenges in its new role. – By Diane Uwimana
After 18 years of membership of the organization, this will be the first time will Burundi lead COMIFAC. The Minister of Agriculture and Environment from the Republic of Chad, Baiwong Djibergui Amane Rosine passed the baton to Jean Claude Nduwayo, the Burundi Minister of Water, Environment, Land and Urbanism Planning in the presence of Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of Republic of Burundi.
Among the activities that the previous leadership left behind to be worked upon by the successive leadership, two major activities are notable. Firstly, Burundi will be responsible for ensuring sustainable financing mechanism of COMIFAC across all member states, a continuation of the actions initiated and established by its predecessor.
Secondly, Burundi will prepare for and organize the 3rd Summit of the Central Africa countries Heads of States. “The summit will focus on the conservation of, and sustainable resource management of forests and environments. It will establish new guidelines and build upon on the achievements over the last ten years,” advised Rosine.
She stated that she recognized that progress has been made at an international level in both governance issues for natural resources, and in the understanding of the importance of the role of natural resources for the standard of living of populations, while also stating the ongoing challenges faced by COMIFAC to be able to satisfactorily achieve its goal and missions.
Pierre Nkurunziza stated that Burundi is well aware of the COMIFAC challenges that constrain its activity. “If we consider the outstanding challenges, the To Do list is way is too long and the funds provided are insufficient,” says the President Nkurunziza.
He acknowledges that all members of COMIFAC face challenges, such as high levels of population growth, ignorance concerning the importance of forests and their natural resources, lack of capacity building, deforestation and degradation, and climate change.
The Burundi government, stated the President, is committed to taking all necessary action to guide and support their COMIFAC colleagues at the regional and international levels. “Even if we much focus on our full attention on the electoral process (which will be held during) this year, nothing will constrain the COMIFAC activities,” ensures the President Nkurunziza.
Not only have COMIFAC members taken part in international meetings, but have also it contributed in the ongoing struggles against desertification and against degradation of resource management. “A recent incident of border poaching harmed approximately 300 of elephants in national parks in the north of Cameroon and in the south of Chad,” regrets Rosine Amane.