Turning natural resources into peace and prosperity: ‘This programme is highly innovative!’
The partnership with Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB) in DR Congo was formally launched on 1 September 2011. KU Leuven is coordinating the programme, in association with UGent and University of Antwerp. The goal is to improve the well-being of the population in the South Kivu conflict zone. Research is planned into improvements to farming, the development of the mining industry and solutions for local health problems.
Reconstruction of Kivu
The central theme of the cooperation project with UCB is 'resource management in Kivu as part of post-conflict reconstruction'. The three sub-projects examine soil fertility and plant diseases; better management of mining activities; and health, with the focus on women and chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. A team of academics and scientists from Flanders and DR Congo has been put together for each project.
One year down the line the project teams are fully operational. They conduct research in various areas of South Kivu province, especially into farming and mining. A research protocol has been developed for health surveys for women. Research into diabetes and hypertension has already produced promising results.
An significant part of the programme is training researchers and technicians. A number of lab technicians have received training on new analytical methods at UGent and in Kenya. Various students have followed a master’s course at University of Antwerp. The preparatory steps have been taken to launch two PhD courses in September 2012.
There will be an impact to the extent that natural resources, often being subject to war, will be transformed into peace and wealth.
Professor J. Gwamuhanya, vice-chancellor emeritus (UCB)
The preparation required by VLIR-UOS was a fascinating exercise. We had to meet certain conditions. The increased effort and discipline in the academic and administrative management in itself was already a beginning of change.
Professor J. B. Ntagoma, then local coordinator (UCB)
By joining forces we can create an impact for the society.
Professor M. Vervenne, vice-chancellor emeritus (KU Leuven)
There will be an impact on the communities. This programme enables us, together with the government, to implement tools and find possible solutions.
Professor D. Mubagwa, Flemish coordinator (KU Leuven)