To preserve the wetlands for the benefit of people and wildlife, we work with communities to sustainably manage Bangweulu’s resources. Through implementing health and education programmes and community development projects to enhance local livelihoods, we position Bangweulu as the nucleus of a growing conservation-led economy.
Bangweulu is the largest employer in the region. The management team has grown considerably over the years, especially with the employment of the village scouts, all of whom benefit from the reliable remuneration their jobs provide.
In addition, Bangweulu’s robust livelihood programme helps people diversify their incomes through a range of enterprise development projects that includes beekeeping, fisheries management, and sustainable farming training. In 2020, Bangweulu’s enterprise development initiatives showed promise, with 721 community members directly involved in activities such as beekeeping, with 1,845 new hives installed, while village action groups helped establish chicken and goat-rearing projects.
Every year, Bangweulu aims to provide quality education that will support economic and social transformation while raising awareness on environmental issues. Bangweulu financially supports 15 schools on an annual basis and provides learning materials, such as ZEduPads (a solar-powered pre-loaded tablet with multiple curricula in 13 languages), to enhance the students learning experience. This included the purchasing of desks and the construction of staff housing and classroom extensions, as well as the launching of the new Bangweulu School Bursary supporting an initial 32 students for the year.
A Community Development Fund has provided financial resources to support several important infrastructure projects. These include the renovation of health facilities; the creation of teacher housing; and a new marketplace building. A Reproductive Health Programme launched in 2016, receiving overwhelming support from communities, and five years later it is still going strong. The programme works with local Chiefdoms to conduct family planning sessions and reproductive health and awareness programmes; it also includes mobile health clinics.
With fishing being one of the main sources of revenue and protein for Bangweulu’s communities, it is essential that this resource is protected in a way that allows people to harvest without depleting supplies. Community sensitisation programmes to promote fishery regulations have heralded excellent results regarding compliance with a seasonal fishing ban, and the shift away from the illegal and unsustainable use of mosquito nets to catch fish.
Sustainable development and good management of tourism will be a critical revenue generator for the Bangweulu and surrounding communities. Well-run tourism can provide an increase in jobs and help create a conservation-led economy, increasing the value and buy-in of maintaining the wetlands as a protected area long into the future. Communities receive a 15% share of all commercial income generated in Bangweulu.
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