Source: Save Valley, EU $15m project still on | The Herald January 10, 2020
From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the US$15 million Save Valley Conservancy project that seeks to control human-wildlife conflict and create a new boundary around the world-acclaimed habitat in the Lowveld.
This comes in the wake of reports that the European Union had pulled out of the deal to revive the conservancy citing lack of progress.
Among other things, Government and the EU agreed on the creation of a wildlife corridor to separate wildlife and landless communities who occupied parts of the park.
The new corridor would pave way for erection of a new perimeter fence around Save Valley to protect the territorial integrity of the conservancy.
The EU pledged to finance agricultural projects under irrigation to benefit communities around the park to reduce their propensity to interfere with wildlife.
Speaking after a meeting of stakeholders among them chiefs, local authority representatives and ZimParks officials here recently, Masvingo Provincial Minister Ezra Chadzamira said the EU deal was still on the table.
He underscored Government’s commitment to revive the fortunes of the conservancy to boost tourism in a win-win scenario also tailored to benefit communities.
“We met all stakeholders at Save Valley and had fruitful discussions on how to implement the EU deal,” said the Minister.
“We are optimistic that implementation of the deal will start once everything is in place soon.”
Minister Chadzamira said it was important to have the buy-in of communities around the park.
“Everything is now almost in place and what now remains is for the relevant ministry (Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry) to engage the EU with a final report detailing the ground that has been covered at and we hope the rest will fall in place.”
Minister Chadzamira said the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa regarded tourism as a low hanging fruit that can play a key role in growing the economy towards Vision 2030 goals.
The conservancy’s revival is expected to consolidate the Lowveld’s position as a niche tourist destination in Zimbabwe as the habitat is part of a wildlife belt stretching into Gonarezhou National Park and the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Save Valley plunged into problems after landless communities from Bikita, Zaka, Chipinge and Chiredzi occupied parts of the wildlife habitat.
The development sparked rampant human-wildlife conflict after poachers destroyed the perimeter fence.
Some of the land occupied by landless settlers was protected under the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs).