RRH End of year 2023 Newsletter 

Dear partners and friends of RRH,

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who has stood by our side in the journey of conservation. Together, we have achieved incredible milestones, from safeguarding endangered species to restoring vital ecosystems. Your unwavering support has fueled our passion and commitment to preserving the beauty and biodiversity of our planet. As we reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the past year, we look forward to the opportunities that the coming year holds. With your continued support, we will persist in our mission to protect and cherish the wonders of the natural world. Here's to a new year filled with hope, dedication, and a shared commitment to a sustainable future.

Warm regards,


Michael Ngugi Kimani

RRH Team Lead


RRH in numbers


The current state of protected and conserved areas in Eastern and Southern Africa as developed and authenticated by RRH

RRH Updates
Meet our New Team Members
In 2023, our RRH team welcomed three new members. Yvonne Khaemba, in charge of policy; Job Mwangi, in charge of communications; and Martin Nyoro, in charge of geospatial data. The three have been very instrumental in the realization of the RRH strategic sustainability plan.

RRH March 2023 Data Training

From March 20th to 24th, 2023, the RRH held the Second Edition of the Data Training Workshop on Protected and Conserved Areas. The training workshop was held physically at RCMRD premises in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants were drawn from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. During the training, the participants discussed the importance of data and information in decisions related to effectiveness and governance in protected and conserved areas.

They also engaged on how the countries will participate in the preparation of the State of Protected and Conserved Areas Report 2023 (SOPACA II). Participants were also taken through the information management process of the RRH (data collection, management, processing, analysis, and dissemination of information and knowledge products) to allow countries to engage actively with the Regional Reference Information System (RRIS).

Over 100 participants benefited from this training. 

Participants during the 2023 RRH data training session
IUCN-ESARO's Christine Mentzel addresses participants during the training.

Some of the participants during a plenary session


RRH actively participates in East African Community (EAC) Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy development

The RRH team actively took part in the development of the EAC Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy. The principal purpose of the strategy and associated action plan is to provide an implementation mechanism for the EAC Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy framework, allowing for stronger, collective, and coordinated measures by EAC Members (and stakeholders and related organizations) for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and related tourist sites in the EAC region. RRH actively participated in sessions in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan. 

Some of the attendees during the session in Nairobi, Kenya

The Regional Resource Hub-Reference Information System (RRH-RIS)

RRH has developed a Reference Information System, which is a free web-based, open-source information system for protected areas across the 24 countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa - ESA region. The RRH-RIS gives a full dive into the specific country profiles and tracks some of the conservation indicators and pressures.

RRH Community of Practice

RRH has been at the forefront of fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and collective learning among individuals with diverse expertise and backgrounds united by a common goal of encouraging better decision-making for fair and effective management and governance of protected and conserved areas. Through participation in the community of practice, it is clear that conservation challenges are multifaceted, requiring interdisciplinary approaches and a holistic understanding of ecological systems. The RRH community of practice provides a platform for scientists, policymakers, practitioners, and local communities to exchange insights, share successful strategies, and address emerging issues collaboratively by facilitating the flow of information and best practices. Through the CoP, we have not only enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of conservation efforts but also contributed to the development of innovative solutions that can address the complex and evolving nature of environmental issues. Additionally, the shared sense of purpose and mutual support within a community of practice has fostered a collective commitment to sustainability, creating a resilient network that can adapt to changing circumstances and amplify the impact of conservation initiatives.

Here are some of the products of the RRH Community of practice.

RRH fireside conversation 1 with Candice Stevens on sustainable financing in conservation

RRH fireside conversation 2 Dr. Dominic Maringa, Head of Conservation and Wildlife at Lewa Conservancy sharing on innovation in conservation
Webinar on sustainable financing in conservation facilitated by Sustainable Finance Coalition

RRH takes part in the RIC 2023

RRH, through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management program (BIOPAMA), participated actively in the 2023 RCMRD International Conference. The conference provided a unique platform for BIOPAMA to engage with a diverse audience of regional experts, policymakers, and stakeholders in the field of natural resource management and geospatial information. This collaboration enabled RRH to foster knowledge exchange, promote best practices, and facilitate partnerships crucial for effective biodiversity conservation and protected area management. Additionally, the conference offered an opportunity for BIOPAMA to showcase its innovative approaches, tools, and data-driven solutions that contribute to the sustainable management of biodiversity and protected areas. By participating in the RCMRD International Conference, RRH, through BIOPAMA, strengthened its presence, enhanced regional cooperation, and contributed to the overarching goal of ensuring the long-term resilience of ecosystems in the face of global challenges.

Above, participants visit the RRH booth

The RRH team host Luther Anukur, the Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa at IUCN


RRH participates in the BIOPOMA all-hands meeting in Gland, Switzerland

The RRH team attended a series of meetings at the BIOPAMA II - IUCN Global Coordination Meeting that was held at IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland from 19th to 22nd September 2023. The meetings were crucial for the effective delivery of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme II (BIOPAMA II), a project funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and implemented by IUCN in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries. During the meeting, the participants discussed how to further international collaboration as it is crucial for addressing global environmental challenges comprehensively. The interconnectedness of ecosystems and the shared responsibility for safeguarding biodiversity demands a collective and coordinated effort from all members around the world. The convening of BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) members provided an opportunity to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and collectively address the dynamic challenges in biodiversity conservation and protected area management. It also provided a platform for exchanging insights, best practices, and lessons learned, enabling members to stay abreast of the latest developments hence facilitating the building of a strong network and fostering partnerships.  


Above - Participants during the all-hands meeting at Gland, Switzerland



RRH presents and exhibits at the Wildlife Research Training Institute Conference 

The RRH team participated in the 1st Wildlife Scientific Conference by the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) held in Naivasha, Kenya, under the theme “Use of Wildlife Science for Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation and Improved Livelihoods.”.

The purpose of the conference was to showcase wildlife scientific output, share experiences and expertise with other scientists globally, and act as a channel to disseminate information gathered on wildlife science for decision-making. The focus was on well-researched scientific papers on discoveries, innovations, technologies and applications in wildlife conservation and sustainable utilization. 

RRH team leader Michael Ngugi sharing about the RRH project with the participants during the conference.

RRH takes part in the Global Landscape Forum

The RRH team participated in the Hybrid Conference of the Global Landscapes Forum 2023. The team presented on the crucial role of monitoring and the subsequent knowledge sharing and exchange on African ecosystems in improving governance and promoting sustainable management will be defended. OFAC and RRH were noted to play key roles in providing relevant, credible, and timely information on forest ecosystems, with the aim of promoting the use of such information for the improved management of forest resources for biodiversity preservation, conservation, and local development in their respective regions in Africa.
In addition to OFAC and OFESA, the work of other regional observatories, such as the Observatory for Biodiversity and Protected Areas in West Africa (OBAPAO), and the engagement of regional stakeholders like the Commission of the Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC), were also highlighted. The understanding of the work these observatories do in Central, East, and West Africa was emphasized as potentially instrumental in influencing environmental action and curbing hazards that were threatening the well-being of Africa's ecosystems and, subsequently, its peoples.


The RRH Team Lead, Michael Ngugi Kimani, makes a presentation at the GLF2023


RCMRD 2023 Map Competition 

RRH was one of the sponsors and judges of the 2023 RCMRD map competition. The competition, spearheaded by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), runs in RCMRD member states in Eastern and Southern Africa and aims at promoting the use of maps, earth observation, and creating awareness of the data sharing geo-portals and observatories to allow users to discover GIS datasets and creatively use them to develop innovative solutions. 

Here are the winners:


RRH Inaugural Sports Tournament
This year, RRH organized the first-ever sports tournament, mainly targeting RCTI students and staff, under the theme of working together in biodiversity conservation



Meet the winners

Peter Nduati, receives the award for emerging as the best in darts. 

Stephen Baraka triumphed  in the Table Tennis category

Caleb Mutalia emerged the winner in the badminton category


LA Lakers emerged the winners in the Basketball category

RRH Participates in the Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) workshop

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) TFCAs Network annual meeting was hosted by the National Agency for Conservation Areas of Mozambique in Maputo from 13th to 16th November, 2023. The event began with a field visit to the newly established Maputo National Park, part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA between Mozambique, South Africa, and Eswatini). During the session in Maputo, TFCA Focal Points from each Member State had the opportunity to discuss the updates provided on each TFCA. The SADC Secretariat also provided feedback on its activities and engagements to foster transfrontier conservation, while new funding opportunities will be presented and explained by the different International Cooperating Partners. Further, independent projects and action research activities will present their work and progress. RRH participation. Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) are founded on the realization that natural resources that straddle international boundaries are a shared asset with the potential to meaningfully contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the welfare and socio-economic development of rural communities. Also, TFCAs are practical means of demonstrating regional integration.

SADC is one of the four Regional Economic Communities within the intervention area of the Regional Resource Hub (RRH); and thus, a key stakeholder of the hub – strategically, technically, and politically. Currently, RRH is hosting the SADC TFCA portal – support that is likely to continue for the next four years under the forthcoming Regional Centre of Excellence.

Among the topics that were presented and discussed in the meeting include the following: Climate change mitigation and adaptation plans, Transboundary coordination within SADC TFCAs leads for effective ecosystem services, including habitat and species management, Human capital and professional development to support TFCAs Goal - Training institutions working together to support SADC’s TFCA program, Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Management, TFCA Network Communications system revamp

Regional Resource Hub was given an opportunity to present on the work it is doing in the region and how it is collaborating with SADC TFCA. RRH reiterated its commitment to work closely with SADC TFCA and offer support where possible.  

Participants at the TFCA workshop in Maputo, Mozambique. 


RRH GIS specialist Erick Wabwile presents during the panel discussion

Good news!

RRH through RCMRD identified as a Regional Centre of Excellence for East and Southern Africa

RRH through RCMRD has been identified as a Regional Centre of Excellence for East and Southern Africa set to implement Biodiversity and Forests components. The Centres of Excellence are the European Union’s support for the use of Science, Technology, and Innovation for the green transition and sustainable development. RCMRD hosted in Kenya, is indeed privileged to be one of the three Centres in Africa that will play an active role in helping the 24 countries in our region, tackle the challenges surrounding Biodiversity and Forestry.



The East and Southern Africa Forest Observatory - OFESA

RRH has been partnering with OFESA. This is a regional initiative that aims to improve forest monitoring and management in the region. It covers five countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda).

You can find more details about OFESA here https://ofesa.rcmrd.org/en/


GMES and Africa

RRH has been partnering with the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa). This support program is the result of the long-standing cooperation between Africa and Europe in the area of space science & technology, which is one of the key priorities of the long-term EU-Africa Joint Strategy. GMES & Africa Support program is administered by the African Union Commission through the Human Resource, Science and Technology (HRST) Commission and supported by a technical assistance team led by GAF AG.

The program aims at improving African policy-makers, planners’, scientists, business and private sector and citizens’ capacities to design, implement, and monitor national, regional, and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of Earth Observation data and derived information.

You can find more information about GMES and Africa here - https://gmes.rcmrd.org/


Mark the date for the 2024 RRH Data Training Workshop 

From all of us at RRH we wish you and your a Merry Christmas and a happy 2024. Thank you for consistently journeying with us. 

What RRH offers

Regional Reference Information System
The ESA HUB has a regional reference information system that is free, secure and built using open source technologies. It hosts a broad range of data that can be stored and used, such as field data, indicators, satellite imagery, maps, photos, surveys and documents.

Knowledge Products
The ESA HUB provide information and knowledge products that allow conservation actors, donors and decision makers to access the most updated and comprehensive information on protected areas and natural resources management at regional, national and site levels.

Capacity Building
We develop the capacity of stakeholders on protected and conserved area management effectiveness, governance, equity and data management. Most of the training opportunities are offered at Regional Level and the dates are announced at the Upcoming Events section.

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