IMPLEMENTING projects that foster community participation in natural resource management is critical at mitigating climate change-related phenomena, an expert in climate change from Zero, a regional environmental organisation, Shepherd Zvigadza, has said.
BY SOFIA MAPURANGA
Zvigadza noted that when communities take ownership of natural resource management strategies, it becomes easier for the government and other organisations to provide the requisite support for the successful implementation of the projects.
“Awareness of the effective strategies on how communities can best utilise available resources and infrastructure to mitigate climate change-related challenges is critical,” he said.
Zvigadza emphasised the importance of projects that ensured partnerships and collaborations among communities, non-governmental organisations, the government, private sector and international organisations.
One such undertaking, initiated in Zimbabwe, the Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor project, received a major boost following the donation of equipment worth over $520 000 from the World Bank.
The equipment, which included five vehicles, two tractors, a single tractor trailer, four motorbikes, 13 laptops, seven desktop computers, printers, radios, binoculars, eight digital cameras, a video camera, 50 water tanks, tents, backpacks, metal detectors and webbing jackets, among others, is set to benefit communities and stakeholders involved in the Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor project.
The stakeholders include communities residing in Hwange and Sanyati, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Environment ministry.
The project, whose objective is based on three environmental focal areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change and land degradation, will see communities living in the area take part in land and forest conservation and realise the economic returns of the natural resources at their disposal.
Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri emphasised the importance of providing support aimed at promoting sustainable biodiversity management initiatives within communities.
She said, while the government embraced the continued support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the World Bank and project implementation relationship with WWF Zimbabwe, it was imperative for the affected communities to continue playing a leading role in the project initiatives.
“We are grateful for the enthusiasm and strong project ownership demonstrated by participating communities and traditional leadership,” Muchinguri said, adding that the human, wildlife and environmental interaction had catapulted all parties into conflict, which had resulted in environmental degradation.
The Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor Project is located in north western Zimbabwe, covering 5,7 million hectares.
Set to be implemented over a five-year period by the Environment ministry through the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, EMA, Forestry Commission and Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) Association under the guidance of the WWF Zimbabwe, the overall objective of the project is to develop land use and resource management capacity of managers and communities in Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor.
“For this project, the government of Zimbabwe secured $5,8 million from the Global Environment Facility and the funds will be channelled through the World Bank,” Muchinguri said.
She said the project was aimed at improving the management of protected and buffer areas, improving forest and land management among other key outcomes.
“People and the environment are not always in harmony and this has resulted in a number of environmental challenges including deforestation and land degradation among others, but the project will solve these challenges,” Muchinguri said.
WWF country director, Enos Shumba said his organisation was mindful of the serious challenges besieging the Zimbabwean environment and natural resources sector in recent years.
He said it was commendable that Zimbabwe was the first country in Africa to develop and successfully apply the alternative approach to the management of wildlife resources outside protected areas through Campfire, which popularised the concept of sustainable natural resource management, with the people being at the centre.
“Our country has the second largest population of elephants in Southern Africa, which is twice the country carrying capacity for this species and the onus is on us to ensure that these resources benefit our respective communities,” Shumba said.
He said while the country boasted having the third largest individual black rhinoceros population in the world, it was important to note that the majority of communities that buffer such areas, as the Hwange National Parks, were not benefitting from proceeds from these natural resources.
“There is need to promote the culture of ownership and ensure that it cascades to economic returns for the respective communities,” he said.
“Communities should be at the forefront in fighting illegal practices, such as the cyanide poisoning of elephants and wildlife in Hwange National Parks, the illegal killing of wildlife, such as Cecil the lion, the loss of the country’s wetlands to other land uses and the wanton and unsightly littering of our towns and cities.”