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THE livelihood of Namibians living in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza-TFCA) is set to improve following the recent signing of a four-year trans-boundary project aimed at enhancing sustainable wildlife management and food security in that area.
The Kaza-TFCA is the world's largest terrestrial trans-boundary conservation area created by five southern-African countries, namely Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The project will span both the Namibia and Botswana territories of the conservation area. It will focus on the Khaudum-Ngamiland wildlife dispersal areas and community conservancies in the Zambezi region and around the Khaudum National Park.
The trans-boundary community conservancy sustainable wildlife management (SWM) project is funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
AFD is a public institution that implements French policies in areas of development and international solidarity while the SWM project is an initiative of the organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, funded by the European Union with co-funding from the French Facility for Global Environment.
The project will be implemented with the support of technical partners such as Wildlife Entrust Africa in Botswana and the World Wildlife Fund in Namibia.
Namibia's component of the project was officially signed by environment minister Pohamba Shifeta and FAO representative in Namibia Farayi Zimudzi in Windhoek recently.
Zimudzi said the focus of the project is to benefit both the wildlife and ecosystems in the Kaza-TFCA, and to develop the resilience of local communities that rely on them, at least in part, for food and income.
According to FAO, the new project will partner with the governments of Namibia and Botswana to address threats from unsustainable wildlife hunting in some areas and habitat closure and fragmentation, which prevent animals from reaching the resources they need to survive.
It will also address poaching and the killing of animals because of human-wildlife conflict in both countries.
Metter Wilkie, the FAO's forestry division director, said each year the Kaza-TFCA experiences large-scale migrations of elephants. Half the total population of African elephants is found here.
However, the area is also home to poor rural communities whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, fishing and hunting and who are always unable to meet their basic needs due to erratic rainfall and frequent droughts.
Currently, Namibia has a network of 86 community conservancies, which collectively cover 20% of the country's land surface and are home to nearly 230 000 people.
Gilles Kleitz, the director of AFD's ecological transition and natural resources department, said the project aims to establish a network of community conservancies since they have proven to be a powerful means of combating rural poverty.
She said, in 2018, conservancies in Namibia contributed more than USD10 million in benefits such as income, employment remuneration and in-kind gestures like meat to conservancy members.
“The overall economic contribution from these benefits amounted to more than USD62 million, including the creation of over 5 300 jobs from conservancy-related operations and enterprises,” said Kleitz.
The project is expected to contribute to the creation of policies aimed at fostering community conservancy development, sustainable hunting and wildlife conservation and enhanced institutional and legal frameworks needed to implement these policies.
FAO said the SWM programme is already promoting a similar approach in Zambia.
Journalist (Employed by The Namibian)