New project to benefit Mbire, Muzarabani communities

Source: New project to benefit Mbire, Muzarabani communities | The Herald

New project to benefit Mbire, Muzarabani communities
AWF Country Director Olivia Mufute

Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

Local communities in Mbire and Muzarabani districts in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, north of the country, are set to benefit from a new US$5,5 million programme that aims to improve to livelihoods through sustainable management and use of natural resources.

This comes after the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Zimbabwe signed a new 4.79 million euro (US$5,5 million) Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) funded UTARIRI Project grant to strengthen conditions for sustainable management and use of natural resources, including protection, conservation, and restoration of biodiversity in these districts.

“As AWF Zimbabwe, we are happy to announce that we have signed a new SIDA grant with the Danish Church Aid (DCA) to implement the 2022 – 2025 UTARIRI – Integrated and Adaptive Biodiversity, Climate and Livelihoods Project in the Zambezi Valley,” Olivia Mufute, AWF country director told the Herald on Wednesday.

“The project is set to contribute towards sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources, restoration of biodiversity, climate action and building community resilience in the Zambezi Valley of the country.”

This project will be implemented by a five – member consortium comprising of AWF, DanChurchAid (DCA), Farmers’ Association of Community Self-Help Investment Groups (FACHIG), The Future of Hope Foundation (TFoHF) and Bushlife Africa Trust (BAT).

The ‘UTARIRI’ project taken from the Shona word meaning ‘stewardship,’ largely aims to support Government efforts to enhance climate adaptation and resilience of local communities affected by climate change.

Mufute said the would cover the protection of biodiversity, harmonized response to sustainable development goals, agricultural production, provision of ecosystem services, integrated land management and local livelihoods.

“It uses a stewardship model based on the principle of leaving no one behind as it strives to make communities, private, and public players participate in the management, promotion, and conservation of biodiversity,” she said.

“We strongly believe that the local communities in Mbire and Muzarabani districts can demonstrate a model of conservation that benefits people and contributes to economic development.

“We remain committed to support the people of Zimbabwe in leveraging their rich biodiversity endowment through interventions that are predicated on principles of African leadership, empowerment, inclusivity, innovation, equitable sharing of conservation benefits, and harmony between wildlife and human needs.”

Mid-Zambezi Valley

The Mid-Zambezi Valley is one of Africa’s most important biodiversity areas and it forms one of the most important area that supports large populations of wildlife.

It also includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the UNESCO Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve.

Through the project which started this month, AWF will contribute significantly to training and capacity building for communities and wildlife committees, improve water supply through establishment and rehabilitation of water points.

It will also support community level human wildlife management structures and capacitate women and youth to generate income from non-timber forestry products and off farm activities.

An inception meeting was convened in Mbire and Muzarabani, where the AWF has supported a number of development projects that sought to improve livelihoods, reduce human-wildlife conflict and biodiversity conservation.

Since 2018, AWF has also supported Zimparks conservation areas in the Mid Zambezi Valley with infrastructural developments, provisions, digitalisation of radio communication equipment, fuel, field and camping equipment, patrol rations, vehicles and boats for anti-poaching patrols worth more than US$10 million.

This support has made it possible to facilitate specialised training and capacity building programmes for rangers, helping to combat poaching, reduce illegal wildlife trade and trafficking of wildlife products in the landscape.

Zimbabwe and most other Southern African countries are among the worst-affected regions globally by climate change.

The countries are bearing the brunt of climate change yet they are the least polluters.

Developed countries have failed to meet their US$100 billion climate finance pledge to help the most vulnerable people in developing countries.

Zimbabwe and most other African countries still face severe liquidity challenges that make the mobilisation of domestic resources for climate action difficult.