Empowering Lengwe, Mwabvi communities through alternative livelihoods for biodiversity conservation

One key strategy for easing pressure on natural resources in protected areas is provision of alternative livelihoods to people living around the vicinity.ย  Community engagement is essential to the success of such initiatives.

Mdelanji Pita, 28, from Mbobo Village in Nsanje beamed with joy as she received five goats during a goat handover ceremony at Sorgin in Nsanje.ย  She is one of the community members around Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve who relies on the protected area for her livelihood.

โ€œThese goats will help us improve our livelihoods and reduce over reliance on the Reserve for survival.ย  Instead of cutting trees, burning charcoal or killing animals, we will now be busy with goat farming.ย  I would like to urge my fellow beneficiaries to take care of these goats so that once they have multiplied, they should be passed on to other people in our areas.ย  It is high time we stop relying on the Reserve for our survival,โ€ she said.

Goats for the pass-on program at Mwabvi

Conservation of these protected areas will mostly assist in preserving the Shire River which is the main source of water for the Kapichira Dam which will supply water to the canals under construction. The SVTP is working in conservation areas like Thambani Forest, Majete Wildlife Reserve, Lengwe National Park, Matandwe Forest, the Elephant Marsh and Thyolo Escarpment with funding from GEF to a tune of $5.56 million over five years.

121 beneficiaries (75 women and 46 men) from 11 group village heads from around Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve (specifically Senior Chief Mbenje and Tengani) in Nsanje district received a total of 605 goats, with each beneficiary receiving 5 goats (four female, one male).ย  Beneficiaries will be expected to pass-on the goats to other community members after multiplication.ย  ย A similar activity was conducted in areas around Lengwe National Park in Chikwawa district where 1,100 goats were given to 220 farmers (149 women and 71 men) from 22 group village heads.

Director of Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa urged beneficiaries to assist government in conserving natural resources by avoiding practices that are contributing to fast deterioration of protected areas including illegal logging, cutting down of trees, charcoal burning and poaching.

On his part the District Commissioner for Chikwawa Dr. Medson Matchaya reiterated the Councilโ€™s commitment to ensuring that protected areas in the district are preserved.ย  He assured the gathering that the Council will keep track of the goats to ensure that they are passed on in the communities for greater impact.