By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
The Chief Executive Officer of the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS), Dr. Sam Kanyamibwa has explained how BEST approach is helping ARCOS and the Nature-Based Community Enterprises to achieve their goals.
From its establishment, ARCOS has put capacity building, information sharing and stakeholders empowerment on top of its priorities. ARCOS has implemented several capacity building programmes targeting mostly local community organizations and national NGOs, but also government institutions.
Speaking at the recent Africa Mountains Community-to-Community Exchange 2022— a forum that brought together about 200 nature-based community enterprise representatives from Africa mountain regions— to mark the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development as well as the International Mountain Day— celebrated on 11th December of each year—, Dr. Kanyamibwa revealed what Nature-Based Community Enterprises means by referring to the ARCOS approach.
He said “We have an approach titled BEST. The word is made of four letters reflecting the integration needed towards sustainability. We have now around 1000 community groups applying the mentioned approach.”
Dr. Kanyamibwa briefly explained that “the letter B stands for “Building sustainable institutions.”
“This initial stands for a tenet aiming to build sustainable governance of institutions, inclusiveness and transparency, it is about the management system.” He added.
He continued with the second letter E which is “Enhancing environmental resilience.”
He recalled to the congregation of the Africa Mountains Community-to-Community that the foundation of life on earth lies in the well-being of the environment. In light of this, he said “If you are using the chemicals in your agrosystem, you are killing your soil not to mention that you are going to contaminate consumers of your produce. In this sense, we work with our communities to understand the aspect of farming or other anthropogenic activities in harmony with nature.”
Touching on the third letter S, Dr. Kanyamibwa mentioned that this letter sustainable business solutions. “ARCOS supports households and community groups (associations or cooperatives) to develop and run sustainable businesses with the aim to eradicate poverty while nurturing the environment.” He explained.
Niyonsaba Jean de Dieu, a coffee farmer based in Kirehe district testified that his cooperative, KOAKAKI work under BEST and this approach has lead the cooperative to tangible fruits. “A couple of years ago, our cooperative started with a production of 75 tons of coffee per year and right now we reached 450 tons of coffee per year. This was achieved thanks to the trainings and capacity acquired through ARCOS BEST” said Niyonsaba.
The cooperative intercrop coffee with trees grown on their land that gives good shade hence good yields.
The letter T is “Transformation and inspiring others”. Dr Kanyamibwa emphasized that this tenet focusing on spreading the transformational change toward sustainable environment and livelihoods. “From this exchange, I hope everyone will get inspired by the journey and dreams of cooperatives here present.” concluded Dr. Kanyamibwa.