Biodiversity, Climate Change, Community, Community Development, Conservation, Great Limpopo TFCA, Herding 4 Health, Limpopo National Park, Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique, Partnerships, PPF Sweden

Herding For Health, Food For Life

Zvi Tangawamira has her feet firmly on African soil, with her eyes set on the horizon. It’s an exciting time for Peace Parks’ recently appointed Senior Programme Manager for Herding For Health (H4H),an initiative set up in 2019 by founding partners Conservation International and Peace Parks Foundation.

So far it’s been an amazing experience working together across two different organisations, recognising this programme’s enormous potential to change lives, livelihoods and landscapes for the better.

Zvi Tangawamira, Peace Parks’ Senior Programme Manager, Herding For Health

Herding for Health is a community-driven livestock management model for rangeland restoration, biodiversity conservation and improved livelihoods; the programme supports Africa’s rangelands to thrive for the benefit of people and nature. Success here is wildlife protected and communities being able to support themselves economically, and nutritionally, building a new resilience to climate change across landscapes. This promising solution is being delivered through a practical and traditionally oriented strategy: planned rotational grazing, combined herding and the use of mobile night enclosures, by professional herders equipped with knowledge, to guide communities.

The programme is informed by scientific research, indigenous knowledge, and global best practice in pastoral and conservation landscapes. It enables stewards of rangelands to confront the complex realities of making a living in an environment under pressure from the conflicts of people living alongside wildlife, and with extreme weather changes to create opportunities in their place.

Global Challenges, Crucial Solutions

Africa is in a time of unprecedented challenges. The sustainability of livelihoods and people’s ability to live a healthy life are constantly at risk, with these problems only set to intensify without immediate intervention. Rangelands, representing 43% of Africa’s land – approximately 13,000,000 km2 – and 53 million pastoralists, are particularly vulnerable and degraded.

Climate change is driving land degradation and shortage of water, as extreme natural events – such as prolonged dry spells and more frequent droughts – escalate across many African landscapes. Communities’ health and livelihoods suffer in proportion, unsupported and lacking in options to restore their land, and derive incomes and food.

The Global Report on Food Crises 2023 Mid-Year Update indicated that at least 238 million people are facing acute food and nutrition insecurity, of which an estimated 40 million live in southern Africa. Some critical factors that contribute to this in the region include prolonged dry spells, frequent droughts, and floods, struggles for communities and wildlife to coexist, and pests and diseases. Conservation, at scale, to mitigate these issues has its work cut out, but the partnership’s programme has hit on a powerful formula and, to date, has made great strides in driving widespread change.

Herding for Health is now operational across six countries throughout southern Africa, with a targeted 7 million hectares under management within a few years. This programme contains all the elements to ensure conservation impact at scale, which is at the heart of Peace Parks’ 2030 Strategy, by focusing on a ‘one health’ approach: enabling healthy landscapes, healthy livestock, healthy communities and coexistence between people and wildlife.

Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation

Where Wildlife, Livestock and People Meet

Thandazile Sibia is 51 years old; she is from Gala village near Limpopo National Park, one of the programme’s target communities. She started raising cattle with an investment of two cows; she now owns 11. Her herd has granted her an income stream enabling her to meet the costs of schooling, clothing, food and healthcare. She feels happy and more secure with these new opportunities unlocked, empowered by the cattle handling and pasture management knowledge imparted and put into practice by the Professional Herders.  

I used to see my cattle grazing alone in the same area every day, and running away from anyone who approached them. Nowadays, the herd is very familiar with people; they are more relaxed, safe, and healthy, and can graze more widely from place to place. The land is healthier too.

Thandazile Sibia, Herding For Health farmer, Gala village near Limpopo National Park
Professional Herders are sharing vital knowledge with farmers, enabling them to adopt livestock herding practices which lift pressure off the land. The effects of rotational grazing are striking; where cattle were once herded in small, concentrated areas and soil suffered, now rangelands are able to regenerate, providing abundant grazing areas. Communities feel more empowered and secure.

Where, historically, humans and wildlife clashed, the signs of a newfound harmony are striking. In previous years, cattle owners around Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park would lose approximately 50 cattle to predators in a single year – a devasting blow to their business and means of survival. In 2022, the farmers participating in the Herding for Health programme did not lose a single animal to predation.

The sunk cost of cattle lost due to human-wildlife conflict has been a significant problem, added to which, from an economic perspective, communal farmers have lacked market accessibility, supplying only 5% of the meat market while owning roughly 50% of the livestock. This has posed enormous drawbacks to sustainable livelihoods, a situation which is now being turned around and translated into a strong value chain by using predator-proof pens in areas of high predator-livestock conflict.

The Herding for Health Partnership Programme is working in partnership with private sector such as Meat Naturally, to bring quality beef from regenerative practices to market.

Communities working the land nearby to Limpopo National Park, where soil fertility and dependable water sources can benefit significantly from Herding For Health implementation and accompanying water interventions, together improving soil fertility. Rangeland restoration is inextricably linked to sustainable food production, addressing the chronic problem of malnutrition and food insecurity.

Food on the Table: it Starts in the Soil

In the current climate – literally – this nutritional pillar of the Herding For Health model has never been more critical to human health, and its foundations lie firmly in the soil. Zvi stresses the importance of acknowledging that climate, soil fertility, water security, economies, food production and health are intimately connected.

We look at the potential a specific landscape holds that could promote better nutrition for those living off the land. We are teaching farmers to support the soil health of their land so that their farms can be fertile, to ensure that they have enough food on their tables.

Zvi Tangawamira

A Collaborative Commitment to Africa’s Rangelands

In September, Conservational International and Peace Parks, announced at the Africa Climate Summit an ambitious plan to restore 20 million hectares of degraded rangelands, and, in doing so, bolster the climate resilience of landscapes and those dependent upon it. A significant USD 150m funding commitment has been made available through the generous support of partners and donors in order to make this vision a reality.

This kind of collaboration is the best way to achieve goals and maintain the ecosystems that for, 200,000 years, have sustained life across the African continent. Even though they store vast amounts of irrecoverable carbon, provide livelihood opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people and are culturally significant to pastoralist communities, current conservation efforts in these ecosystems are low. The investment by Conservation International and Peace Parks aims to change that.

Suzanne Ngo-Eyok, Conservation International Senior Vice President, Africa

Herding For Health’s collaborative, community-driven conservation formula has never been so relevant and important and, over time and across transboundary landscapes, impactful to lives and livelihoods of the communities that depend on them. Zvi is right: it is indeed an exciting time.

The Herding For Health programme is generously funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery.

Sharing of knowledge and expertise, and long-term support, are crucial to the adoption of new, practical and successful herding techniques which are enriching rangeland areas and empowering farmers.
NEXT ARTICLE

Annual Review 2022

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

Taking the LEAD to Save Lives

Privacy Policy     Terms of Use     Cookie Policy     Reg no: 1997/004896/08     NPO: 005-294     PBO: 130003729