AWF Hosts Close-Out Meeting for EU Lower Zambezi Program

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AWF Hosts Close-Out Meeting for EU Lower Zambezi Program

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On December 16, 2021, the African Wildlife Foundation hosted a close-out meeting for the ‘Partnership for improved anti-poaching and compatible land use in community lands of Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transboundary Conservation Area’ project in Hurungwe District, Zimbabwe.

The project which was aimed at reducing illegal wildlife trade and habitat conversion in the Lower Zambezi-Mana Pool Transfrontier Conservation Area has been running for the past four years in the landscape with support from the European Union. Other organizations that worked with AWF in implementing this project include the Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), Zambezi Society (Zamsoc), and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).

“As AWF, we take pride to have implemented the project and are grateful for the funding support from the European Union, and are pleased to have partnered with Hurungwe District Council and its development partners such as Zimparks, FAO, Agritex and IAPF, and Zambezi Society in improving and strengthening sustainable natural resource management in the District,” said Olivia Mufute, AWF Country Director for Zimbabwe.

In Hurungwe, one of the project’s objectives was to reduce tobacco-induced deforestation by engaging tobacco farmers, the private sector, and other local community representatives to co-develop demand-driven solutions. The other objective was to address human-wildlife conflicts, document the extent and nature of human-wildlife conflict, and support mitigation measures in six target wards that border protected areas. 

Notable successes over the years include identifying models for mainstreaming environmental practices into tobacco farming — in particular, energy-related initiatives that reduce the amount of fuel wood for tobacco curing. Piloting human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures and standard operating procedures that are context-specific, which can be implemented at low cost, replicated easily, and scaled up is another notable achievement.

“We are confident that the capacity development and operational equipment investments will go a long way to strengthen conservation goals and co-existence of people and nature in the long term for the District,” said Mufute.

As a sustainability plan, the community leadership is committed to continuing with their beehive project to sustain livelihoods, ensure that resource monitors continue to arrest people who participate in deforestation, implement policies that will safeguard their natural resources, and utilize the facility they have to train more tobacco farmers.

In attendance were Hurungwe District Council staff, Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) officers, ward councilors, chiefs, non-governmental organizations, private players, government officials, and community representatives.

“We thank AWF for your efforts in securing consent from the Republic of Zimbabwe to operate in this sovereign nation and this respective Hurungwe Rural District Council. It was not easy for you to be accepted in the first place but you never lost hope in engaging responsible offices. Here we are sharing the success story of such a noble cause,” said the community liaison officer for Zimparks, Daniel Makaza.

AWF is committed to supporting the government and people of Zimbabwe in leveraging their rich biodiversity endowment in alleviating poverty and inequality through interventions that are predicated on principles of African leadership, empowerment, inclusivity, innovation, rights-based conservation, equitable sharing of conservation benefits, and harmony between wildlife and human needs.