Community Development, COVID-19 Support, Malawi Zambia TFCA, Nyika National Park, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Protecting livelihoods in Malawi amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Vulnerable communities severely affected by the socio-economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have been offered a lifeline in the form of a EUR 1 million COVID-19 relief initiative to be rolled out in Malawi. These activities aim to provide short-term relief and meet the most urgent needs of families who are suffering a loss of income in the wake of the global paralysis experienced in the hospitality and tourism sectors.

The funding was made available by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through KfW Development Bank to the Government of Malawi.

The government has implemented various critical measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic, especially in response to the struggling tourism sector. We would like to thank the German government for their generous support that enables us to do even more – bringing relief to the local communities living around the protected areas of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA, who largely rely on these parks for their survival.

Dr Michael Biswick Usi, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Malawi

Like most of southern Africa, the economic devastation caused by the loss of jobs due to the closure of hospitality businesses since March 2020, has become a stark reality for Malawi, with more than 35 000 Malawians who have reportedly lost their jobs. The decline in visitor numbers to the parks is affecting revenue, which has a devasting impact on the survival of communities living around these areas, and on park operations. Approximately 11 percent of the communities surrounding the parks are migrant workers who are affected by the closing of certain facilities. Additionally, a large percentage of the population relies on subsistence farming, fishing, and bee-keeping to make a living. With a drop in sales at markets, compounded by tourists not buying honey and other items at the Park gates, many families are losing critical income.

Prescribed burning by community members in Nyika National Park

In response to this, Peace Parks Foundation, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) in Malawi through the financial support from Germany, is implementing cash-for-work programmes as a short-term intervention. Income generating opportunities will be created in the protected areas for laid-off tourism sector employees and community members struggling because of COVID-19, in order to supplement their income. Re-establishing a measure of stability in terms of food-security and financial resources, is also crucial to conservation efforts, as it will minimise the need for poaching and wildlife crime – activities that often escalate during such time due to a shortage of other resources.

In Vwaza Wildlife Reserve, about 400 community members will be commissioned to clear a 10-metre-wide, 70 km fence line, in preparation for the fence construction.

Interventions will focus on Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve in Malawi where Peace Parks Foundation has an operational footprint. The employment programmes will mainly engage communities to build or rehabilitate assets that are vital for sustaining the livelihoods of the communities and support eco-tourism activities within the parks.

A few examples of distribution of personal protective equipment and cash-for-work activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Disseminating COVID-19 prevention information materials to the communities in and around the parks;
  • Distributing health items such as soap, hand-sanitizers, masks, wash buckets and basins to communities;
  • Through a partnership with a local NGO, making cloth masks for communities, protected areas staff and tourism staff still working;
  • Conducting maintenance work on roads, signage, alien invasive species control, fire breaks and boundary/fence clearing;  
  • Providing incentives to communities for information to counter poaching activities; and
  • Protecting livelihoods through wage subsidies to the lodge staff in the protected areas.

Cash-for-work opportunities include workers taking data of the pines in the riverine ecosystems, in Nyika National Park, where this invasive pine species will undergo ring-barking, under the Invasive Alien Species Control Programme.

KfW has also provided support for relief efforts in Mozambique – EUR 1 million was made available by BMZ through KfW and will create approximately 450 jobs in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (170 in Limpopo, 160 in Zinave, and 120 in Banhine) over 10 months. The initiatives under this grant will be implemented by Peace Parks Foundation in partnership with the Mozambique Government’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC).

In addition, the German Government has provided EUR 4 million to the world’s largest transfrontier conservation area (TFCA), the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA, to mitigate the devasting repercussions of COVID-19 in four of the Partner States – Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


EUR 4 million COVID-19 relief efforts in KAZA


Ministry against wildlife crime

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