By BENEDICT TEMBO
A six year project being implemented by the World Wide Fund (WWF) Zambia is billed to strengthen protection of the Mafinga Hills National Forest Reserve and ultimately secure the Luangwa headwaters through an integrated catchment management approach.
The Mafinga ecosystem is critical to the Luangwa river, one of the longest remaining free flowing rivers in the Zambezi basin, as well as life-supporting services such as habitat for various flora and fauna and other ecological services.
WWF Zambia has been designated by Government as the implementing agency for the Sustainable Luangwa project, also known as GEF 7, which will run from 2021 to 2027.
“At WWF, our commitment is to have a successful implementation of the project through prudent utilisation of our knowledge, expertise, talents and technology to support the transformation of Mafinga district into a sustainable green economic hub through our project management unit and collaborating partners,” WWF Zambia Country Director Nkombo Nachilala said at the signing ceremony in Lusaka yesterday.
Ms Nkombo added that in the fight against climate change, forest degradation and indeed natural resource depletion or degradation, WWF is ready to support the Government in engagements for urgent action to realise the shared vision for a poverty-free Zambia.
“Additionally, we do believe that building resilient healthy ecological systems with equitable access to socio-economic services and benefits through such interventions is crucial for preventing future climate change effects and impacts, and for enabling individuals, families, communities and nations to thrive,” she said
Ms Nkombo said the MoU is also a landmark to make Mafinga district the leader in the new wave of innovation by connecting ecosystem support to greater resources as the project demands multi-sectoral cooperation and coordination to succeed.
“I am looking forward to the new actions that will be developed as a result of this multilateral cooperation (Global Environment Fund, Government and World Wide Fund),” she said
Speaking at the same function, Muchinga Province permanent secretary Henry Mukungule said the natural environment in Muchinga Province, as in other parts of the country, has continued to suffer.
“Degradation due to adverse human activities is threatening biodiversity, water quality and flow, and associated ecosystem services to communities and we are concerned,” Mr Mukungule said.
He said the MoU between WWF Zambia and the ministry of Green Economy and Environment signifies the commitment of Muchinga Province to the attainment of integrated and sustainable natural resource and environmental management.
“The province will continue with strides aimed at improving the lives of our people through sound environmental management,” he said