The French Development Agency (AFD) together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on 12 May 2021 launched the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Community Conservancy Project in Namibia and Botswana's side of the Kavango-Zambezi Transboundary Conservation Area (Kaza). The organisations are funding this project to the tune of €3.5 million.
The project which will be implemented by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Namibia aims to support countries in managing wildlife at sustainable levels, as well as to improve food security and livelihood opportunities for the rural communities who live in close contact with wildlife while increasing and diversifying the protein supply for the benefit of rural and urban people. This will embrace 13 community-based organisations, including 12 conservancies in the Zambezi, Kavango East, and Otjozondjupa regions as well as the Kyaramacan association in Bwabwata National Park which all encompasses key transboundary wildlife corridors.
The SWM Community Conservancy project also aims to combat the poaching and killing of animals due to antagonism between human populations and wildlife. The issue of human-wildlife conflict is very pressing in southern Africa, particularly in the Okavango basin where water stress is gradually taking hold, causing the two sides to meet frequently.
“Given the changing climates across the region and the need for improved self-reliance that has been highlighted in this Covid-19 pandemic, there is a strong rationale for Namibia to produce more game meat and to add more value to this resource in the future.” Said the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, Honourable Pohamba Shifeta during his keynote address.
“The ministry is particularly pleased by the growing recognition of the importance and value of sustainably harvested game meat, which is very much evident in this project. Game meat has always been symbolically important for traditional festivals and it is relished as a household source of protein,” he empasised.
The KAZA TFCA, which includes Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, is the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world, covering nearly 520,000 km2. It is a biologically rich area that is of global biological significance comprising more than 20 National Parks, 85 Forest Reserves, 22 Conservancies, 11 Sanctuaries, 103 Wildlife Management Areas, and 11 Game Management Areas (GMAs). The protected area is home to highly diversified wildlife, where animals that know no borders move from one country to another according to the seasons. the TFCA experiences large-scale migrations of megafauna, in particular elephants, where 50% of African elephants can be found.
Speaking at the launch, Ms. Farayi Zimudzi, FAO Representative in Namibia commented that “it is no secret that Namibia is world-renowned for its successful community-based conservation approach. We are therefore thrilled to see how this project will support the development of local community conservancies across the KAZA landscape to improve wildlife conservation, community livelihoods, food security, and nutrition.”