24 October 2012
A few hundred kilometres upstream from Victoria Falls lie the Ngonye Falls, which provided the backdrop to the opening of the Ngonye Falls Community Partnership Park on 27 August 2012.
The Zambian Minister of Tourism and Arts, Ms Sylvia T. Masebo, MP, officially opened the Partnership Park that is jointly owned by the traditional leadership, the local community and Zambia Wildlife Authority.
The Minister also opened the newly renovated visitors information centre and handed over four new vehicles, a tractor and other equipment to park management. Minister Masebo paid tribute to the development partners who have been supporting the Ngonye Falls Community Partnership Park, notably the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW for funding the operations of the park for the last two years, the training of staff and the acquisition of equipment, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) and Peace Parks Foundation for funding the visitors information centre. The Minister said that the five partner countries of the KAZA TFCA, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe want to mutually conserve their natural resources in a sustainable way that will benefit the local communities and will eventually reduce rural poverty.
Later the same day, the Minister commissioned the new headquarters for Sioma Ngwezi National Park, close to Ngonye Falls. As part of their €20 million grant to KAZA TFCA, the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development, through KfW, allocated €2.2 million to develop Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Mr Georg Rademacher, the German Embassy to Zambia’s head of development cooperation, emphasised the importance of partnerships and said: "The partnership between communities and their natural resources is the key element to the sustainable management of national parks and, if established correctly, also the key element in combatting rural poverty." He also said that the KAZA TFCA combines economic, ecological and social development and could become the shining example for sustainable development in the region.
In celebration of the day’s events, 12 impalas were released into a newly fenced wildlife enclosure. More than 500 local community members and various dignitaries attended the day’s ceremonies, which ended with a visit to the Kabula village, where Peace Parks Foundation, with support from The Rufford Foundation and the CCD Programme, had erected an elephant restraining line around the village in October 2010. An elephant restraining line consists of electrified wires that run two metres above ground, thereby allowing communities free movement while protecting crops from elephants. The elephant restraining line has proven tremendously successful and there has not been a single breach by elephants since its erection.
On the 28th of August, Minister Masebo opened the Zambian KAZA country office. Dr Victor Siamudaala, executive director of KAZA TFCA, welcomed this development, saying that all five partner countries’ concerted efforts were needed to achieve their commitment to regional economic integration through the sustainable management of transboundary natural resources and tourism development.
On 22 October 2012 the Simalaha Community Conservancy was officially launched by Chief Sekute of the Chundu Chiefdom and Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Sisheke Chiefdom. The Conservancy offices, kindly made available by Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta at the Mwandi Kuta, were also officially opened by the two chiefs. The offices had been renovated and now provide a base for the project’s management team to function effectively. Minister Masebo said at the opening: “The Simalaha Community Conservancy Trust has been established and will oversee the development of a land-use management plan with the assistance of the Zambia Wildlife Authority and of Peace Parks Foundation. On that note, I must record here our sincere gratitude to Peace Parks Foundation for the supporting role they have carried out to bring the Simalaha Community Conservancy to this stage.”
Thanks to Stichting Energo funding, matched by mostly free labour from the community, two staff houses were built to accommodate teachers at the Mwandi School in Simalaha. The houses were officially handed over to the community by Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Mr Werner Myburgh, who said that it has been a privilege for the Foundation to be involved in the development of the Simalaha Community Conservancy as an area to re-establish wildlife populations and a mechanism to stimulate community benefits through wildlife and tourism development.
Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta said that the Conservancy would be an important area in KAZA TFCA to re-establish wildlife populations and their migration routes to the benefit of the local communities. He also reminded all of the Conservancy’s significance to the KAZA TFCA, as it will ultimately link Chobe National Park in Botswana to Kafue National Park in Zambia. The Senior Chief thanked the development partners of the Simalaha Community Conservancy, notably the Mava Foundation for Nature and the Swedish Postcode Lottery for their support.