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24 January 2021 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, and the Head of the European Delegation to Djibouti, Ambassador Aidan O’Hara, this morning signed a Grant Agreement aimed at supporting IGAD for a Trans-boundary South Sudan-Ethiopia conservation project of biodiversity in the Boma-Gambella landscape.

The Political and Public Diplomacy Plenipotentiary Minister speaking for the Ambassador of Ethiopia to Djibouti participated in the ceremony which was held at IGAD Headquarters, as well as the Ambassador of Sudan to Djibouti in his capacity as Chair of IGAD Committee of Ambassadors.

The overall objective of the Project is to enhance governance for natural resources and people in the Boma-Gambella landscape. More specifically, the project is meant to establish collaborative trans-boundary management of protected areas and the inter-zones in the Boma- Gambella landscape.

In his opening remarks, Dr Workneh praised a ‘long-standing friendship’ between IGAD and the European Union that had ‘grown from strength to strength’. ‘This project is the latest in a long line of partnerships and shared initiatives between IGAD and the EU to preserve all that is good in our region and also address the challenges that we face’, he said. ‘I guarantee that IGAD will ensure the project is delivered on time and deliver a positive impact on the biodiversity management and the livelihoods of communities’ resident in Boma-Gambella’, he concluded.

As he took the floor, Ambassador O’Hara commended IGAD Secretariat for ‘the cross-border approach it is taking to tackling regional challenges’. He also ‘emphasised how important it is to involve local communities in the implementation of the programme and wished the implementing partner, The Wildlife Conservation Society, every success’.

The Representative of the Embassy of Ethiopia confirmed ‘Ethiopia’s readiness and full support for the implementation of this project’ which will ‘bring a well-established system, a better cooperation and information sharing between the two countries to protect and preserve the GOMA-GAMBELLA landscape’.

This conservation project worth 4.4 million Euros for a duration of 60 months aims at establishing systems and protocols for trans-boundary collaboration, capacity building, landscape level planning, scientific collaboration and information sharing, wildlife law enforcement and management, and community interventions.

IGAD will be in charge of the global coordination of this transboundary project while the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will be the implementing partner.

The Boma-Gambella landscape is a diverse system of wetlands, rivers, savannah, open forest, bush and highland areas and includes Boma National Park in eastern South Sudan and Gambella National Park in South West Ethiopia. It is an area rich in biodiversity which includes vast numbers of white eared cob, tiang, mongalla gazelles and other species that seasonally migrate from their wet season habitat in South Sudan to their dry season habitat in Ethiopia. As the migratory species depend on seasonal resources in both countries, their survival increasingly depends on bilateral collaboration on conservation by the authorities and stakeholders in the two countries.

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