VLIR-UOS IUC Université de Kisangani


The VLIR-UOS Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) programme with the University of Kisangani (UNIKIS) started in 2010 for a period of 10 years. The two general objectives of the programme are (1) the creation of a centre of excellence in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity and (2) institutional strengthening of UNIKIS.

UNIKIS is located in the heart of the equatorial forest and therefore has an exceptional advantage as to the knowledge of the biodiversity of the region. The local population faces a problem of soil fertility which remains linked to low production and therefore to undernourishment. Furthermore, the population continues to practice slash-and-burn agriculture which has resulted in deforestation, leading to the loss of animal, plant and micro-biodiversity. The University is asked to provide solutions to the problems facing society and to propose alternatives. This IUC programme aims to provide scientific solutions to a few key issues, such as: improving soil fertility, producing organic materials, protecting forest ecosystems, domesticating wild plant and animal species to eliminate the nutritional deficit of the population and developing cultural practices to protect the environment.

The IUC programme consists of three projects:

Project 1: Contribution of Sustainable Agriculture to food security in the North-East Basin of the DRC
Project 2: Contribution of Biodiversity to Training and Food Security in the North-East Congo Basin
Project 3: Institutional Capacity Building of UNIKIS

The first years of the programme were mainly dedicated to investments and the foundation of the necessary infrastructure (search fields, laboratories) to prepare for the actual work of the coming years. Since January 2017 the programme entered in its third phase and more emphasis is put on vulgarisation and sustainability.

Within DR Congo, the IUC programme is coordinated by the University of Kisangani in cooperation with other universities (UNILU, UNIKIN, UNIKI) as well as other organizations (IITA-IYAKIS, Caritas Congo, CIALCA, ...) in the region.
Within Flanders, the overall IUC programme is coordinated by Hasselt University, but the different projects are carried out in cooperation with other Flemish universities (including Ghent University, Antwerp University and Leuven University) as well as other organizations (including the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the Botanic Garden Meise).

Project 1: Sustainable Agriculture

The Sustainable Agriculture project aims to strengthen the academic capacity of UNIKIS, in particular the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Renewable Resource Management, in the fields of soil fertility, crop science, genetic resources, food crop selection and plant protection through in-depth research in these areas. To support the research, laboratories specialized in pedology, in vitro propagation and phytopathology will be equipped and improved. The project also aims to contribute to the increase of sustainable agricultural production through the improvement of farmers' management conditions by (1) determining the production potential of major food crops and (2) developing strategies to improve the fertility of the soil, agricultural practices, adapted varieties, control over major diseases and pests of major food crops. To do so, collaborations are established with other Congolese universities, basic seed multiplication units are created, research is conducted on the processing of fish stocks and best practices are being disseminated.

The objective of the Sustainable Agriculture project is to conduct research to improve the conditions of farmers related to the maintenance of soil fertility, systems for sustainable improvement of this fertility and crop protection to improve sustainable food production and food security while reducing deforestation and ensuring a more sustainable, productive and forest-friendly agriculture.

For more information about the project, you can contact the project leaders and main team members:

Project leaders:
Prof. Didy Onauthsu (UNIKIS)
Prof. Geert Baert (Ghent University)

Main team members:
Prof. Dieudonné Pyame (UNIKIS)
Prof. Benoît Dhed'a (UNIKIS)
Prof. Rony Swennen (Leuven University)
Prof. Geert Haesaert (Ghent University)

Project 2: Biodiversity

The Biodiversity project is essentially aimed at improving biodiversity knowledge in the Democratic Republic of Congo by facilitating access to available biodiversity data. Therefore, the project develops:
- a database of previous floristic and faunistic inventories, continually enriched by new specimens which are added to the list at any time;
- functional and well-equipped laboratories and conservatories (collections) as well as optimized breeding and cultivation systems;
- field applications of farming techniques and cultures based on the skills acquired during previous project years.

Results and achievements concerning the sustainable exploitation of natural resources are being published and continually disseminated. By making all the obtained information available, it is possible to master the current state of biodiversity in Kisangani and its surroundings which will allow users and managers to use sustainable methods of exploitation, because the future of the entire population depends on it.

For more information about the project, you can contact the project leaders and main team members:

Project leaders: 
Prof. Hippolyte Nshimba (UNIKIS)
Dr. Erik Verheyen (University of Antwerp & Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) 

Main team members: 
Prof. Dudu Akaibe (UNIKIS)
Dr. Christine Cocquyt (Meise Botanic Garden)

Project 3: Institutional Capacity Building

The Institutional Capacity Building project is a transversal project to strengthen the institutional capacity of the University of Kisangani in the fields of ICT, academic English, pedagogical methods and research management. The primary objective is to train university staff (academics, scientists and administrators) and to provide logistical support in order to help the university to better realize its three fundamental missions: training, research and community service.

For more information about the project, you can contact the project leaders and main team members:

Project leaders: 
Prof. Augustin Issoy (UNIKIS) 
Prof. Jean-Michel Rigo (UHasselt)

Main team members: 
Prof. Gaston Kimbuani (UNIKIS)
Prof. Arthur Cimwanga (UNIKIS)
Prof. Gratien Mokonzi (UNIKIS)
Prof. Johan Ackaert (UHasselt)

Programme management

The Programme Support Unit (PSU) supports the project activities on a daily basis and facilitates the efficient implementation of the project activities in line with VLIR-UOS rules and regulations. The PSU ensures central and transparent project management and strengthens links and exchanges between projects and partners.

For more information about the programme management and the IUC programme in general, you can contact:

Local coordinator: Prof. Oleko Woto (UNIKIS)
Flemish coordinator: Prof. Johan Ackaert (UHasselt)

Local project manager: Fidèle Lungymba (UNIKIS)
Flemish project manager: Liesbeth Oeyen (UHasselt)