Zimbabwe and Zambia have launched a joint $5,5 million Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme (SWMP) to be implemented over a period of five years.
The project, being implemented with the assistance of development partners, aims to reduce the pressure of hunting wildlife by promoting, under the auspices of Community Conservancies (CC), sustainable use of wildlife.
In Zimbabwe, the project would be implemented in the Mucheni community conservancy, which is located in Binga District, Matabeleland North province while in Zambia, it would be implemented in the Simalaha CC in Mwandi and Kazungula districts in the Southern and Western provinces.
Speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwe chapter of the programme, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa said the project would assist Zimbabwe to derive benefits from its natural resources.
“As the nation endeavours to attain an Upper Middle Income status by 2030 through Agenda 2030, it is our hope that programmes such as the SWMP can contribute to the upliftment of our citizens,” he said.
“Access to, and benefiting from natural resources should contribute significantly to their welfare and the growth of the economy and my Ministry has set a goal to improve community livelihoods through environment and natural resources management programmes.”
Mr Munodawafa said the initiative would also assist the Mucheni community to deal with poaching and human-animal conflict.
“I humbly appeal to our development partners to keep on the back of their minds the issue of sustainability,” he said.
“It is critical for the local community, in particular the local leadership, the chiefs and local Zambian and Zimbabwean students from local universities to have their capacity developed in the course of the program to allow survival and sustainability post funding. Projects must never be allowed to die the day the funding is exhausted,” he said.
The project is a joint initiative of several institutions and organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Centre for International Forestry Research, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development.
It is funded and supported by the European Union.