By Elna de Beer – Technical Advisor
These are the words of Paulo Chambisse from Banhine National Park (BNP) describing his experience of the first session between the Community Engagement Teams (CET) of Zinave and Banhine National Parks coming together for a learning exchange at Zinave National Park (ZNP) during May 2023.
After the delays caused by Cyclone Freddy in Mozambique during February 2023, we could finally continue with the capacity development and technical support process for the CETs of BNP and ZNP that started in 2022.
We started off in BNP from 8 to 12 May 2023 with the CET and Herding for Health (H4H) teams and from the start it was evident that considerable progress was made despite the logistical challenges posed by the destructive impact of the cyclone on roads and access to remote communities. Collectively with the senior management of the park steady progress has been made on the consultative process around the management plan of the park and the establishment of natural resource management committees with communities in the buffer zone. The collaboration between the CET and H4H at BNP remains and outstanding feature of the park’s engagement processes with communities in the buffer zones.
Peace Parks Foundation provided logistical support by flying the team from BNP to ZNP which saved a significant amount of time, as road conditions are still difficult after the destruction of the cyclone earlier this year. We are incredibly grateful for this support.
The learning exchanged took place from 15 to 19 May 2023 and focused on a few key processes the CETS of both parks are involved with respectively, and this is where the learning happened. These processes included:
- The establishment of the Park Management Boards in accordance with the management plan of each park;
- The establishment and support of natural resource management committees in collaboration with communities;
- The support of livelihoods projects e.g., conservation agriculture amongst others;
- Consideration of the corridor developments processes in future; and
- Support tools linked to governance and information management systems.
ZNP is also in process to collaborate with The Hunger Project (THP) to establish and develop two Epicentres to help alleviate poverty related issues within local communities. This process is captured in a Memorandum of Understanding between PPF, ZNP, THP and the SAWC. Two days of the learning exchange was spent on a workshop to develop a three-month operational workplan between the ZNP CET team and the EpiCentres’ Project officers. This was achieved with input from all the teams.
One of the proudest moments of the learning exchange was when we handed out Certificates of Competence to Herculano Ernesto (BNP) and João Vas (ZNP) for successfully completing the SAWC Short Course in Community Based Natural Resource Management. We are enormously proud of the two CET leads at the two parks and hope that their success will inspire even more learning.
At the end of the two weeks, everybody agreed that the more we share our learning, the better our work will be.
We look forward to continuing with this process in 2023 with teams at BNP and ZNP with the next session taking place at Banhine.