Victoria Falls – Director of wildlife and national parks in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Colgar Sikopo has implored members of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA ) to ensure that the conservation area is fully developed to attract tourism and development.
He said it is the responsibility of member countries to ensure the KAZA TFCA is developed as a sustainable conservation and tourism programme, from which partner countries and rural communities can derive equitable social and economic benefits while observing the principles of accountability, equitability, transparency and mutual respect, as stipulated in the KAZA TFCA Treaty.
Sikopo was speaking on behalf of Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta at the State of KAZA Symposium 2016 currently underway in Zimbabwe.
KAZA TFCA is celebrating 10 years since an MoU was inked that paved the way for a cooperation between Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The member countries are participating in the symposium to reflect on their achievements, as well as challenges and the way forward.
“It is important to underline the fact that KAZA TFCA programmes are for the communities who are also represented here by traditional leaders from all five partner countries, while the five ministers who are to ensure that community inspirations are met represent governments,” said Sikopo.
Sikopo further told the symposium that Namibia’s Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme has proven time and again to be an important instrument in meeting goals of conservation and sustainable development.
“CBNRM is based on the understanding that if natural resources have sufficient value to rural communities and allow for rights of use, benefit and management, then our environmental policies will create appropriate incentives for people to use natural resources in a sustainable way,” he said.
“Through innovative legislation, rights have been devolved to rural communities, with particular regard to wildlife, water and forest resources,” he added.
The KAZA TFCA covers an area of about 520 000 square kilometres and is one of the African landscapes that still hosts large herds of herbivores and many carnivores/predators, a sign of a landscape that remains remarkably intact.
Across the vast landscape, rich diverse cultures have thrived for thousands of years. The two characteristics, of abundant wildlife and rich cultural heritage, are recognised globally by the inscription of the three world heritage sites within KAZA TFCA to include the iconic Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi wa Tunya, ‘the smoke that thunders’, and the seventh wonder of the world between Zambia and Zimbabwe: the Okavango Delta, which at 15 000 square kilometres is the world’s largest inland delta and Ramsar site in Botswana and the Tsolido Hills representing the cradle of San culture, also in Botswana.
All these attributes make the KAZA TFCA a rare and special place, a vibrant home to 2.5 million people and an ideal destination for millions of visitors from around the globe wishing to experience abundant wildlife and diverse cultures.
Through the MoU the partner countries committed themselves to engage stakeholders in all stages or phases of planning, development and management of the KAZA TFCA, so as to obtain the necessary support and social acceptance for the transfrontier conservation area, whose vision is to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation area and tourism destination in the Okavango and Zambezi River Basin regions of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.