Project Spotlight

Binga: Portrait of Rural Life in Zimbabwe
People in Binga district, north-western Zimbabwe, live in conditions of chronic poverty, and the combination of severe droughts and recent economic recession has increased their vulnerability. A 1993 Save the Children report stated that many residents regularly do not have enough grain to feed themselves. People exist on wild foods and drought handouts, remittances from relatives working in towns, and often from selling their remaining crops and livestock.

Living in such precarious conditions means that if wildlife damage crops or livestock, it can ruin people's very livelihoods. Elephant damage is a significant factor in crop loss in many parts of the district. Not surprisingly, until CAMPFIRE project money was used to build solar-powered fences around agricultural land and villages, local residents were not interested in conserving their wildlife, which they saw as dangerous and destructive. Through CAMPFIRE, these same wild animals are now vital to rural development in the district: revenues from fishing, game hunting and wildlife tourism are used to supplement individual household incomes and for community development projects. In 1980, before CAMPFIRE, the Binga district only had thirteen primary schools and no secondary schools. By 1995 the district boasted some 56 primary schools and nine secondary schools.

'Up until 1985, we were a people without hope. Our children too were suffering as diseases took their toll. There were no schools, no wells and no clinics. Villagers continually sought help as they were engaged in a desperate struggle to survive. With CAMPFIRE, we now have rural health centres within easy reach.'

Chief Sinakatenge, Binga district.

Chipinge: Elephants in the Fields
Not so long ago, an elephant was found raiding the crops in Mahenye ward, near Gonarhezhou National Park in southern Zimbabwe. In the past, the reaction of the villagers would have been to demand that the elephant be shot by the wildlife department. This time, however, the Chief himself intervened, saying: 'That elephant is our future'. The people chased the elephant out of the field instead.

That marks a major change in the attitude of the people of Mahenye ward. When the colonial government of Rhodesia created Gonarhezhou National Park, it drove out many of the Shangaan people who were living there. The people, not surprisingly, felt little attachment to the park. In fact, they felt if they killed the animals there would be no reason for the park to exist and they could move back onto their land. Poaching was rampant.

Under CAMPFIRE, however, the same villagers who once hunted illegally in the park can now grant a concession to a safari hunter who pays the community for the right to hunt on their land. Poaching is down as the people take a more protective view of their newly valuable resource and recognise the park as a reservoir of wealth - sort of a bank for animals.

Guruve: Poached Eggs
Crocodiles cruise the Manyame River in the Guruve CAMPFIRE area. With the growth of the commercial crocodile ranching industry in Zimbabwe, their nests have become valuable resources. After negotiation, crocodile farmers pay the local communities a fee for all the eggs they collect.

The communities have become quite protective of the crocodile nests. In Guruve's Chitsungo ward, some villagers went so far as to 'arrest' several egg collectors who they thought were in the area illegally. It turned out the collectors had the appropriate permits, but the arrests provide another example of how CAMPFIRE has prompted a new attitude among rural communities.

Before CAMPFIRE, the people went out of their way to destroy crocodile nests. Now they protect them and take pains to ensure that only proper collectors who will pay for the eggs work in their areas.

Nyaminyami: Buildling Democracy
' Pamberi ne mhuka, pamberi ne budiriro, pasi ne vateyi.' 'Forward with wildlife, forward with development, down with poachers .'

Each speaker at the annual general meeting of the Nyaminyami Wildlife Committee began by reciting that chant, with fist raised. They then held a vigorous debate over how to distribute the money they were earning from wildlife. Indeed, money was almost the sole focus of the meeting. For the people of Nyaminyami, six years after joining CAMPFIRE, wildlife means money, and the more of both the better.

Nyaminyami still faces enormous challenges. Poaching remains a problem, and immigrants from other districts are moving into wildlife habitat. Yet, a democratic process has taken root here. As with any democracy, the early stages seem messy and inconclusive, but the existence of the Nyaminyami Wildlife Committee, and others just like it across the country, bodes well for the future of Zimbabwe's rural people and their heritage.

Recently the Nyaminyami district council has decided to zone for different land uses. It is the first CAMPFIRE district to do so. Amongst the proposals are to:

Establish a wildlife sanctuary within the existing Bumi Hills state land where wildlife presently enjoys complete protection.
Designate a range of hills, the Mapongolas, as a conservation area, which would exclude human settlements from the region. It would also create a corridor for the movement of animals between Matusadona National Park to the east and Chizarira National Park to the west.
Designate a number of sites on the shore of Lake Kariba, for the development of small rustic camps for nature tourists.
Formally recognize a number of key conservation areas, including unique stands of vegetation and important habitats for crocodile breeding areas on the lake shore.
Much of the remainder of the district, which has very little agricultural potential, would be devoted to safari hunting. With careful zoning, wildlife harvesting need not conflict with game viewing and photographic safaris.

' We still need to learn a lot about wildlife management, but villagers are finally beginning to understand that these natural resources are ours to manage. '

Onias Mpofu, Nyenyunga village


Tsholotsho: Wildlife Provides Insurance Against Drought
Tsholotsho district borders the southern boundary of Hwange National Park. Although its soils are largely infertile and it is subject to regular droughts, local people raise cattle and grow millet and sorghum. The area also supports a significant wildlife population. Lions and hyenas regularly feast on people's livestock, and their crops are often trampled by elephants that migrate into the area from Hwange National Park (over 3 000 entered the area in the drought of 1995).

Relations between people and wildlife in the region declined until the District Council established a CAMPFIRE programme. Now the district relies entirely on hunting revenues, and in 1992, for the first time, revenues from two hunting concessions were presented in full community meetings. In view of the ongoing drought, people requested that some of the profits were used to provide household cash dividends, but the majority of the income was invested in community development projects. Village grinding mills were installed, seed packs were distributed along with foodstuffs to further offset the drought, and materials were purchased for health clinics and schools.

Perhaps the biggest change was in local attitudes: since the 1992 meeting, residents have supported the programme fully. Thanks to a tip-off from locals, seven international rhino poachers were recently caught in nearby Hwange Park.

Tsholotsho district does have room for improvement. Much of the benefits reach communities in the form of council-managed community projects (and if these are counted as disbursed to the community, the district consistently meets the targets set out in the guidelines). However, it might be better if these projects were managed by the communities themselves. There is also scope for increasing CAMPFIRE revenues by diversifying the sources of revenue, and offering nature tourism in the region.

District Councils
CAMPFIRE begins when a rural community, through its elected representative body, the Rural District Council, asks the government's wildlife department to grant them the legal authority to manage its wildlife resources, and demonstrates its capacity to do so. By granting people control over their resources, CAMPFIRE makes wildlife valuable to local communities because it is an economically and ecologically sound land use. The projects these communities devise to take advantage of this new-found value vary from district to district.
Most communities sell photographic or hunting concessions to tour operators - under rules and hunting quotas established in consultation with the wildlife department. Others choose to hunt or crop animal populations themselves, and many are looking at other resources, such as forest products.
The revenues from these efforts generally go directly to households, which decide how to use the money, often opting for communal efforts such as grinding mills or other development projects. The councils, however, have the right to levy these revenues.

 

District

Revenue*

Activities

Projects

Beitbridge

2

Hunting, Fishing

 

Bindura

1

Tourism

Paradise Pools Day Centre

Binga

3

Hunting, Tourism

Binga Cultural Village, Masumu River Lodge

Bubi

1

 

 

Buhera

1

 

 

Bulilima

2

Hunting, Mopane worms

Mopane worms processing and harvesting

Chimanimani

1

Tourism

Lodge, ornithology

Chipinge

2

Hunting

Chilo & Mahenye lodges

Chiredzi

1

Hunting

 

Gokwe North

3

Hunting

 

Gokwe South

2

Hunting

 

Goromonzi

1

Tourism

 

Guruve

3

Hunting, Tourism

Karunga, Masoka Camps

Gwanda

1

 

 

Hurungwe

3

Hunting, Tourism

Sanyati Lodge

Hwange

2

Hunting, Fishing

Gorges River Lodge, Cheziya Fishing Camps

Kusile

1

 

 

Mangwe

2

Hunting

 

Marondera

1

 

 

Matobo

1

Tourism

CJ Rhodes Cultural Village, Ntunjambili Day Centre

Mazowe

1

Tourism

Banje Mountain Camping

Mudzi

1

Tourism

Nyatana wilderness

Mutoko

1

Beekeeping

 

Muzarabani

2

Hunting, Tourism

Mavuradona Wilderness

Mwenezi

1

Fisheries

Manyuchi Fisheries

Nyaki

1

 

 

Nyaminyami

3

Hunting

 

Nyanga

1

Tourism

Gairezi Lodges and campsites

Pfura

1

Tourism, Crafts

Pfura Mountains Chalets and Camping Sites, Mukurupahari Bamboo Crafts

Tsholostho

1

 

 

Ump

1

 

 

Umzingwane

1

Tourism

Embizeni Lodges, Mtshabezi Cultural Village

Wedza

1

 

 

* Annual Revenue: 1 = less than US$10,000 per annum, 2 = US$10,000-99,000 per annum, 3 = more than US$100,000 per annum.

 

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