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Saturday, 30 January 2016 saw the official opening of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park headquarters in Zambia by Deputy Minister of Tourism and Arts, Mr Patrick Ngoma. Also participating in the ceremony was Mr Stephan Neu, KfW Country Director and Induna Inanduko of the Barotse Royal Establishment. Community members came out in full force to celebrate the opening.
Deputy Minister Ngoma praised the German government for setting up offices in the park and said that it would assist staff in managing the park and protecting its wildlife. Mr Stephan Neu said that his government was pleased to be associated with Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA and to cooperate with the Zambian government on developing Sioma Ngwezi National Park. Induna Inanduko thanked the Zambian government for recognising the role that traditional leaders are allowed to play in the management of wildlife. He said that well-managed wildlife is key in the creation of employment and reduces poverty in communities.
The construction of the new park headquarters was completed in 2014. Funded as part of the KAZA TFCA development by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through KfW, it includes 11 offices, a radio control room, an ablution block, 20 houses for junior staff and five houses for senior staff. The houses were all connected to water and electricity and the staff moved in. A V-Sat system was installed to enable the offices to have Internet connection and a borehole was sunk to ensure a steady stream of good quality water.
Situated in south-western Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi National Park is strategically positioned on the borders of Zambia with Namibia and Angola. While the park now forms part of the national conservation estate of Zambia, it was previously part of the traditional conservation estate of the Barotse Royal Establishment, reflecting the value that traditional African societies place on areas with significant wildlife. Wedged between the Luiana Partial Reserve in Angola and the Bwabwata National Park in Namibia, the park plays an essential ecological role for wildlife movement along the Kwando and Zambezi rivers despite it not extending all the way to the Zambezi River. The park and the surrounding area within the West Zambezi Game Management Area have therefore been earmarked for intensive wildlife recovery.