International Thematic Network - CAFRINAT: International Centre of Excellence for African Great Lakes Natural Capita

October 2019 to September 2024
natural capital
Great Lakes Region
sustainable management
interdisciplinary research
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (Kenya)
Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (Tanzania)
Université Catholique de Bukavu (DRCongo)
University of Burundi (Burundi)
Ecole Régionale Postuniversitaire d’Aménagement et de Gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires Tropicaux (ERAIFT) (Congo-Kinshasa)
Mountains of the Moon University (Uganda)
Université de Lubumbashi (DRC)
University of Rwanda (Rwanda)
Kahuzi-Bièga National Park, Bukavu (Congo-Kinshasa)
Wildlife Conservation Society – WCS, Goma (Congo-Kinshasa)
Bureau d’Etudes Stratégiques et de Développement (BESD) (Burundi)
INERA – Yangambi (Congo-Kinshasa)
Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (Rwanda)
Université de Kisangani (DRCongo)
Research fields
Agriculture and Food Sciences
Biology and Life Sciences
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Law and Political Science

CAFRINAT is an international center of excellence for African Great Lakes Natural Capital and was founded at the Faculty of Bio-Science Engineering of Ghent University. The general research, education and societal goals of CAFRINAT focus on the sustainable management of natural capital in areas of conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

CAFRINAT uses an interdisciplinary thematic approach to connect all relevant disciplinary knowledge at Ghent University. Through cooperation with academic and non-academic partners in the African Great Lakes region and around the globe, the network unites and expands upon a diverse base of regional and international expertise to face the challenges that lie ahead.

CAFRINAT has formed a truly cross-disciplinary network to help achieve the following long-term goals:

  • Facilitate and stimulate interdisciplinary interaction and identify opportunities for collaboration;
  • Build a basis for the development of local, contextualized research and policy agendas;
  • Become a visible center of excellence at Ghent University with one single point of contact;
  • Raise awareness locally and globally.


The African Great Lakes region faces huge challenges in the management and governance of Natural Capital, because of: 1) strong direct dependence on natural resources for local livelihood, 2) high population numbers (increase), 3) a context of violent conflict, 4) vulnerability to climate change, 5) rapid loss of flagship species, 6) inadequate research infrastructures coupled with poor incentive-based resource governance mechanisms, and 7) an underdeveloped base of knowledge, research and training capacity.

The term Natural Capital refers to the stock of renewable and non-renewable ecosystem resources that combine to yield a flow of benefits (e.g. clean water, energy, food, medicine, climate regulation, recreation) to people. Natural capital is one of the recognized forms of capital, alongside financial, manufactured, social and relationship, human, and intellectual capital and forms the basis for other types of capital by providing essential resources that support a healthy sustainable planet and underpin thriving societies and prosperous economies.