The workshop was organized by the Wetlands International Africa office in Dakar, Senegal in collaboration with the Garoua Wildlife School in Cameroon in the framework of the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project with financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There were 20 participants from the Francophone African countries of Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The participants included representatives from government institutions as well as national and international NGOs.
In addition, representatives from three North African countries (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) took part; their participation was supported by the WetCap project, a 3-year project developed under the umbrella of AEWA, which builds on the WOW Project and specifically aims to strengthen waterbird and wetland conservation capacities in North Africa.
The workshop was opened by Mr. Koulagna Koutou Denis, Secretary General of the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) on behalf of the Minister, who said “The timing of this course is opportune as we are facing various challenges in the sub-region related to flyway conservation concepts that include environmental degradation and loss of habitats and lack of awareness in different parts of the region.”
The workshop was the first WOW ToT in Africa and was jointly facilitated by Tim Dodman (UK), Abdoulaye Ndiaye (Wetlands International, Senegal) and Aliou Daouda (Benin) in the framework of the WOW Flyway Training Programme. One of the main outcomes of the project is a Flyway Training Kit, which will be used to build capacity towards the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats throughout the AEWA region, based on the flyway approach.
The meeting was also attended by Evelyn Moloko, Coordinator for the African Initiative at the AEWA Secretariat, who said “The workshop conveyed a lot of relevant information related to flyway conservation and was a good opportunity for participants to exchange their experiences and to begin thinking in a flyway context”.
The workshop covered three modules of the WOW Flyway Training Kit, which emphasized the role and importance of African sites for migratory waterbirds and their links with other sites along the flyways, the different elements that come into play during the migration cycles and the need for communication and cooperation amongst the different actors involved along the entire flyways.
“It was exciting to see the WOW Flyway Training Kit being put into practice and to see the participants actively using and adapting the presentations, flyway games and other materials from the kit. I am especially encouraged that participants have decided to set up their own network following the workshop, demonstrating their high level of motivation” said Tim Dodman, who is also one of the main authors behind the WOW Flyway Training Kit.
Presentations on different topics from the WOW Flyway Training Kit were prepared and delivered by the participants themselves, encouraging a participatory approach; these were interspersed with a number of group exercises and games illustrating flyway conservation concepts. For example, one of the exercises highlighted the importance of a network of critical sites for waterbirds and the factors which play a role in the different stages of migration such as habitat destruction, availability of food and other human activities.
“The Cameroon training course was a good start in the process of building capacity for flyway scale conservation of waterbirds and their habitats within the West and Central African region”, said Abdoulaye Ndiaye from the Wetlands International office in Dakar. “I hope that the knowledge gained in the context of this workshop will be transferred by the participants through a number of national workshops foreseen in each country”.
The Cameroon workshop was second in a series of regional ToT workshops planned in the framework of both the WOW and WetCap Projects, aiming to enhance flyway conservation of waterbirds in the AEWA region. It follows the first WOW ToT for the Middle East region which took place in Amman, Jordan in August 2009 and precedes future ToTs planned for Anglophone countries from the Eastern and Southern African region early next year and for North African countries in mid-2010. Funding permitting, a WOW Flyway Training of Trainers workshop will also take place in the Central Asian and Caucasus region over the course of 2010.
The Wildlife College of Garoua in northern Cameroon is one of the main internationally-recognized institutions for professional training on the conservation and management of wildlife and protected areas for Francophone Africa. Material from the WOW Flyway Training Programme will now be integrated into the college’s own curricula, which will also form the basis for future trainings within the region.
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