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Brussels, 1 October 2014
EU support for Virunga National Park and cooperation with the Democratic Republic of Congo
Virunga National Park
Established in 1925, Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been strongly supported over the years by the EU, its largest donor. Located in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on the border with Uganda and Rwanda, Virunga is renowned for being the most biologically-diverse protected area in Africa and home to critically-endangered mountain gorillas, elephants and lions in a landscape that includes volcanoes, glaciers, lakes and plains.
Since 1988 EU development cooperation programmes have provided at least €30 million to support the management and protection of Virunga.
By supporting infrastructure reconstruction and increasing security in the park, as well as putting in place a training programme for rangers and park managers, the EU has helped the resumption of tourism in the eastern part of the DRC. Tourism in the Virunga Park has produced millions of euros in revenue, and has already created job opportunities and boosted economic activity. 30% of the income generated by the park's activities is allocated to community development programmes, benefiting neigbouring local communities.
Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, visited Virunga National Park in March 2014, together with Belgian Minister for International Cooperation, Jean-Pascal Labille.
EU support to biodiversity
The EU is the biggest contributor of biodiversity finance to developing countries. The European Commission alone provided €1.3 billion to biodiversity and biodiversity-related projects from 2002 to 2012. Roughly a third of this contribution provided developing countries with support to manage protected areas, for example to maintain elephant populations and curb poaching. A significant part of it was also spent on sustainable forest management, including efforts to combat illegal logging and prevent deforestation.
Launched in May 2014, Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) is one of EuropeAid’s new flagship initiatives, designed to help the poorest countries protect ecosystems, combat wildlife crime and develop green economies. Over 70% of the poorest communities live in rural areas and depend directly on ecosystem services for their subsistence.
B4Life will be financed initially from the EU Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) thematic programme as well as from regional and national development cooperation envelopes, with an estimated budget of up to €800 million for 2014-2020.
A “B4Life Facility” will be created to manage and coordinate delivery of the initiative The Facility will provide technical support, enhance communication and coordination towards achieving international biodiversity targets and coherence, promote knowledge exchange for partners and beneficiaries, and enhance the visibility and coherence of the EU biodiversity-related interventions.
EU support to the Democratic Republic of Congo
The EU announced has committed €620 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo for the years 2014-2020.
EU funding 2014-2020 in the DRC will be used to fight poverty by promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, strengthen democracy and human rights and contribute to peace and stability in the region.
It will focus on the areas of health; environment and sustainable agriculture; strengthening governance and the rule of law; the rehabilitation of 150 km of the national road Route Nationale 1, the major transport route linking the seaports with Kinshasa and Mbuji-Mayi in the centre of the country.
A special focus will be on security sector reform, continuing work already undertaken to modernise the police, defence and justice systems in DRC, laying the ground for the better protection of citizens and their rights.
The financial support will be drawn from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) which provides EU support to African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the years 2014-2020.
DRC: EU Projects in focus
Supporting healthcare and reducing child mortality
A €40 million EU-funded programme to help the DRC attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was recently launched. It focuses on decreasing mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission, preventing gender-based violence, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
Up to a half a million women and children below the age of five will benefit from less expensive health services and better quality treatment in the provinces of North Kivu, Oriental Province, Kasaï-Occidental and Kasaï-Oriental as a result of this programme. Over a period of three years, the programme will cover 70% of the medical costs for the women and under-aged children and 100% for the poorest among these beneficiaries.
250 health centres will receive additional essential medicines and better equipment to treat patients. Food complements (such as high-energy and protein products) in order to recover from malnutrition, specific services for victims of sexual violence and access to contraception and medicines that avoid mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, will all be made available in these health centres. There will also be new storage equipment for vaccines.
The EU has supported the health sector in the DRC since the 1990s. By 2012, this had led to a 50% reduction in the cost of healthcare as well as an improvement in the quality of services for 3 million people.
Helping to increase security
The national Congolese police (PNC) faces a double challenge: on the one hand, to fulfil its mission of ensuring the security of the population, on the other hand, to reform and restructure itself in a context of extraordinary budget constraints. EU funding allowed for the identification and registration of 95,000 agents of the PNC. After the identification process, biometric identity cards were distributed to the agents, helping to greatly reduce the risk of fraud. The programme also supports the modernization of the administration as a whole, including the establishment of human resources and financial procedures. The programme foresees also the construction of a police academy in order to contribute the transformation of the leadership within the PNC.
The EU is also operating a civilian police mission in DRC (EUPOL) with international staff of 40 people from the civilian sector as well as that of the police services from the Member States. Its purpose is to contribute to the ongoing reform process within the Congolese police by supporting the establishment of a civilian and professional police force that respects human rights.. Among other elements, EUPOL provides strategic advice and has been supporting the PNC in areas such as the legislative and regulatory framework, training policy and curriculum, public order (2011 elections) and the fight against sexual violence.
Together, the programmes of the Commission and EUPOL helped initiate the following decisions of the Congolese authorities, among other things: the creation of a bank roll for police salaries; the recruitment of 6,000 police agents of the PNC; the creation of offices of the general inspectorate of the national police in all provinces; the launch of a five year action plan and the modernisation of human resources management of the PNC.
Improving road infrastructure, sanitation and waste collection
A programme on road maintenance and urban sanitation established a rain water collection system and a waste collection system in nine districts of Kinshasa, benefiting a population of about 1.5 million people.
For more information
Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:
Website of the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs: