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» » » USAID moves to empower communities surrounding wildlife corridors


…injects millions of dollars towards resilience in seven wards

Beatific Gumbwanda

CHIREDZI - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pumped in US$19 million to help communities living in wildlife corridors and protected areas surrounding Save Valley Conservancy, Gonarezhou and Bubye sin Chiredzi and Bikita districts.

This has been done to help the communities manage their resources and draw economic benefits from those resources thereby reducing their vulnerability to climatic shocks and economic stresses.

The project somehow fills the gap left when the European Union (EU) withdraw its US$15 million funding for the Save Valley Conservancy project in early 2020, citing lack of progress due to the absence of political goodwill.

The Save Valley Conservancy project was aimed at creating a wildlife corridor to separate wildlife and landless communities who occupied parts of the park.

With Resilience Anchors, people in Bikita Rural District wards 24 and 26; Chiredzi wards 1 and 23; and Chipinge 30 and 29 will benefit in capacity building towards management and protection of their resources for economic benefit.

The US$19 million resilience project was launched last week through a programme dubbed Accelerating New Community-based Holistic Outcomes for Resource Sustainability (Resilience Anchors).

The five-year-long project is aimed at reducing the chronic vulnerability to climatic shocks and economic stresses of those living in communities around protected areas and associated wildlife corridors.

USAID says Resilience Anchors can provide economic opportunities for vulnerable communities to improve their ability to cope with and recover from shocks while conserving the natural resource base for sustainable livelihoods.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Principal Administrative Officer in the office of the Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC), Edmore Mangure, who stood for the PDC Dr Jasper Sakupwanya, said the initiative will go a long way in empowering the beneficiary communities.

“In for years, wildlife corridors and protected areas will be anchors of development, meaning they will provide opportunities for the vulnerable communities in our province. Simply put, this means the project will improve the quality of life for Masvingo community.

“The role of this project is to reduce community’s chronic vulnerability to climatic shocks and economic stresses. Masvingo is blessed with wildlife and vast tracts of vegetation. However, these species are at risk as the human population around protected areas grows,” said Mangure.

He said there were many threats to wildlife and to people living around protected areas and these include poaching, illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflicts, unreliable revenue streams, unreliable water sources and minimum private sector investment.

“Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. Resilience Anchors, as the project name says, seeks to put resilience at the heart of our communities. An important way to achieve this is through community-based management programs for the poor and vulnerable,” said Mangure.

African Wildlife Foundation, which is the lead implementing partner for Save Valley Landscape, was represented by projects manager Serial Moyo who expressed optimism in Resilience Anchors’ potential to turn things around for the better.

“When we look at economic benefits, we are looking at livelihoods. We are looking at how we can help strengthen communities so that they are not susceptible to these (climatic) shocks and when these shocks happen, people are resilient. They are able to withstand, absorb, adapt and transform their communities. That is the objective of the Resilience Anchors project.

“We can effectively use the natural resource heritage we have by applying good governance and oversight and thus build resilience within our communities. We intent to work with our communities to ensure there is an understanding of good land-use practices,” said Moyo.

The project’s key objectives are centred on the improvement of economic benefits from strengthened community-level resource governance and oversight of conservation enterprises.

It also aims to increase sustainable and sufficient supplies of quality water to meet human, economic and ecosystem need, as well as strengthening locally-led development and private sector engagement.



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