Liuwa contributes to employment and tourism revenue through ongoing community engagement and integration, while at the same time helping to renew the people’s commitment to and feeling of custodianship for the landscape. Today, the park is the largest employer in the region, providing critical educational and health benefits to the communities.
The Barotse Royal Establishment is represented by two members on the African Parks Zambia Board to provide a voice for the people regarding governance and decision making.
A series of meetings with local fishermen, traditional parliaments, and local chiefs have been held to clarify penalties for breaches and the implementation of fishing permits for the hundreds of traditional fishing pools inside the park.
With ongoing challenges around human-wildlife conflict, several community sensitisation meetings were held in 2022 regarding the human-wildlife conflict mitigation fund to help provide tools to reduce losses caused by wildlife. The meetings and the process were supported and organised by the newly elected Community Research Board. This new proactive approach to human-wildlife conflict mitigation saw 126 cattle farmers (who own over 7,000 head of cattle) being registered and conflict mitigation tools distributed, including 300 cowbells and 400 solar alarm lamps.
Through Liuwa Environmental Education Programme (LEEP), conservation clubs have been established in several schools in and around the park to increase environmental awareness and highlight opportunities to improve livelihoods through tourism and conservation. The park’s school sponsorship programme provides bursaries and covers schooling and boarding fees, along with textbooks, extra learning material, and uniforms for over 200 children a year.
In 2022, new classroom blocks and teachers housing were built, and 25 community teachers’ salaries paid. The park has trained teachers to use ZeduPads, a pre-loaded tablet, to improve the teaching process and information exchange for students in rural areas.
Through the Jumpstart Project, various sustainability projects are assisting the community to move towards more drought-resistant crops and conservation-compatible agriculture, as well as harvesting and selling honey and dried mango. African Parks’ sustainable agriculture team is focusing on upskilling community members and field workers. There are now over 200 Farmer Field Schools, an agricultural education programme, set up in the park with over 4,700 farmers learning sustainable farming methods. All these projects are having a positive impact on food security.
The CRB Agro-Vet shop that opened in Kalabo in 2021 has been very successful, providing community members with access to equipment and seeds, and promoting sustainable farming methods. Fresh fish, up from 814 kg in 2021 to 2,811 kg in 2022, caught by 1,345 fishermen, were purchased and dried at the fish-drying facility, before being sold at Kasumbalesa market, with profits going to the CRB. The total income from enterprise development increased by 55%, and included 530 kg of honey from 130 beekeepers.
African Parks makes monthly payments to a Community Development Fund established by Liuwa Plain National Park. The amount is directly linked to the degree of poaching occurring in the park, with larger sums being awarded in acknowledgment of effective anti-poaching efforts by a community. Proceeds from the fund are used for projects chosen by the communities themselves and have included canoes for transport, building materials for school buildings, teachers’ houses and rural health clinics, and equipment for clearing canals.
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