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On 19 February 2009 the integrated development plan (IDP) for the Zimbabwe component of the KAZA TFCA was signed.
The cornerstone for the Africa’s biggest conservation area, the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) was laid on 7 December 2006 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the five participating countries to jointly work towards the establishment of the TFCA. KAZA TFCA is situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It will span an area of approximately 287 132 km², almost the size of Italy (300 979 km²), and will include 36 national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas.
On 19 February 2009 the integrated development plan (IDP) for the Zimbabwe component of the KAZA TFCA was signed by Mr Francis Nhema, the Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Dr Morris Mtsambiwa, Director-General of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation.
The official signing ceremony was followed by a traditional African blessing ceremony, overseen by the Minister, Board Chairman, Director General, several traditional leaders and other dignitaries. This will ensure the smooth and efficient transition from planning to implementation. It will also ensure that the benefits of transfrontier conservation will reach the communities timeously and effectively. Preceding the two events, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority had led a consultative process throughout the region, affording stakeholders an opportunity to actively participate in deliberating and planning the actions they deemed necessary to protect the natural and cultural assets of the area, unlock its ecotourism potential and deliver benefits emanating from conservation to the people of the region in an equitable and sustainable manner.
The IDP serves as a summary of the needs and expectations of the Zimbabwe stakeholders. It also forms the basis of the support that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, as the lead agency, will provide towards achieving the objectives of the Zimbabwe component of the KAZA TFCA. As a broad and strategic guideline document, the IDP could be used as a reference for detailed conservation planning initiatives for the national parks, safari areas, forestry areas, and communal areas that provide the foundation for the Zimbabwe component of the KAZA TFCA.
The IDP document consists of three main chapters: The Place, The People and The Plan, as well as numerous and specific action projects related to the key performance areas of resource management, business management, benefit flow management and governance. The projects are aimed at addressing various aspects deemed critical to the successful development and implementation of the Zimbabwe component of the KAZA TFCA and the include institutional arrangements and the legal base for the TFCA; joint planning initiatives; integrated management; policy harmonisation; sustaining landscape dynamics; integrated tourism strategies; and sustainable financing options for the TFCA.
Minister Nhema summed it up best by saying: “..we regard this IDP for our component of the KAZA TFCA as a summary of your aspirations, needs and expectations as conservationists, wildlife managers, safari and business operators, foresters, as well as local communities. These aspirations, needs and expectations will form the basis for supporting each other and for building mutually beneficial partnerships amongst ourselves as interested and/or affected parties through increased cooperation and collaboration locally, nationally and across the borders.”
The IDP development is indicative of Zimbabwe’s political will to develop the Kavango Zambezi TFCA. As is the case with southern Africa’s other TFCA initiatives, the IDP has again been a partnership between government, local communities and the private sector. The IDP process was financed by Peace Parks Foundation and the Swedish Postcode Foundation. An IDP for the Zambia component of the KAZA TFCA was finalised in 2008. An IDP for the Angolan component will be completed in 2010, while an IDP process will be conducted concurrently in Botswana and Namibia during 2010.
The IDP process is a comprehensive and participatory planning process that aligns the planning and development of the different tiers of government with those of the private sector and communities. It also informs the national development strategy of that particular area. The end product endeavours to ensure the sustainable and equitable development, utilisation and management of the KAZA TFCA, once all five separate IDPs, as well as an IDP for the KAZA TFCA as a whole, have been completed.