In 2005 the Mozambican government asked Peace Parks Foundation for assistance with its community development strategy in the Matutuine District, with the technical and professional training of community members as one of the goals. The Foundation appointed a community development technical adviser to implement the strategy, which aims to bring about the sustainable economic development of and benefit-sharing by communities living in and around Maputo Special Reserve through a consultative and participatory process that will also develop nature-based tourism and conservation enterprises.
In a development that is crucial to the Lubombo TFCA’s integrity, South Africa’s Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Peace Parks Foundation have been working on the Ndumo Game Reserve strategic intervention project that will provide alternative income opportunities to the communities residing adjacent to the Reserve. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development has agreed to finance the project and provide technical assistance with its implementation. The project was supported and adopted by all provincial authorities and incorporated under the Premier’s list of priority projects. Peace Parks Foundation assisted Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to commence with community consultation and the Mbangweni/Bhekabantu agricultural livelihood project was developed and approved. A joint project coordination team was also established with representatives from the KZN Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, the Umhlabuyalingana Municipality and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, led by a programme manager.
On 25 March 2011, the Ahi Zameni Chemucane, a community association representing 850 people from three rural Mozambican communities, signed a 25-year partnership agreement with the Bell Foundation to develop a luxury ecotourist lodge in the northern section of Maputo Special Reserve. This landmark agreement marks the first time that a Mozambican community has received long-term concession rights to a prime tourism site in a major nature reserve. The agreement follows a three-year open tender process involving the International Finance Corporation, the government of Mozambique and the Ahi Zameni Chemucane community association, which in December 2010 was granted a 50-year concession to build and operate an ecotourist lodge in the Maputo Special Reserve. African Safari Lodge Foundation played an important role in bringing about the partnership agreement.
On 17 May 2011, two community projects were launched thanks to the World Bank’s financial support. The Provincial Governor handed over a $500 000 cheque to the Chemucane Community as contribution to the development of Chemucane Lodge. A further $50 000 was earmarked for the development of the Matchia chilli project. Following its approval by the authorities, the Elephant Pepper Trust provided technical assistance and training to the Matchia community to produce high-quality chilli that will meet market demands. Capital investment for the project is funded largely from the Community Enterprise Fund, while technical support is funded by Peace Parks Foundation.
To ensure community participation in conservation, community liaison forums were created where community members were trained. In 2011 three regional and 17 local forums were held. The forums are playing a positive role in natural resource management, including benefit sharing.