MUTARE– Zimbabwe has secured a US$10 million grant from the Global Environment Fund (GEF-7) to run a forest and land management project in Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
By Donald Nyarota
The grant will address land degradation, reduced agricultural productivity and biodiversity loss as a result of climate change.
The integrated intervention project targeting 70 000 households, will be implemented by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industries.
Chief Environment Officer in the Ministry of Environment Joseph Shoko said targets of the project includes investigating causes of land degradation in croplands and grasslands as well as proposing interventions for restoration of woodlands while enhancing climate change resilience.
Shoko said the project will also assess reduction of agricultural productivity, biodiversity loss and increase vulnerability to climate change within and outside protected areas in the targeted landscapes.
“The project is targeting drylands or dryland forest ecosystems of Miombo and Mopane woodlands, to assess biodiversity loss, invasion of alien species, and productivity loss in the selected provinces, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland.
“Its targeting mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to firstly achieve land degradation neutrality targets as well as to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods.
“This project is 70 000 people and in particular women and youth, they should also be involved in the project and most interventions will be coming from stakeholders,” said Shoko.
He added, “There is an outcry particularly from Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Forestry Commission that there is limited capacity to implement policy interventions, so the program will also come up with strategies on how to strengthen the capacity of such organisations.”
FAO country office representative David Mfote said it was imperative to not only halt and reverse negative trends of land and forest degradation but to enhance climate resilience of degraded areas.
Mfote said the project will also focus on raising the capacity of local communities to advance a diversified agro-ecological food production.
“In the targeted areas of Save and Runde catchments our aim is not only to halt and reverse negative patterns of land and forest use which causes degradation but we also want to ensure that we promote diversified ecological food production.
Manicaland Provincial Administrator, Edgar Seenza, said there was need for proper management of the project fund in a transparent and accountable manner to ensure that its broad based objectives are achieved.
“This project is all encompassing and we are going to be tracking how the money will be used to ensure the success of the project. $10 million US dollars is a lot of money, therefore something tangible should be witnessed.
“In light of climate change this is very important because the issue of land and environmental management are a cause for concern to everyone, particularly traditional leaders who are the custodians of the people affected by such events like Cyclones.