Promoting wetlands protection and Climate Smart Innovative Agro-ecology for biodiversity conservation livelihoods improvement.

June 20, 2017

Zimbabwe Placeholder
Zimbabwe

Promoting wetlands protection and Climate Smart Innovative Agro-ecology for biodiversity conservation livelihoods improvement.

About the Implementing organization

Name: Local Initiatives & Development (LID) Agency (formerly Shurugwi Partners)

Country: Zimbabwe

Year of establishment: 2008

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status

Description

The innovation is not a business as usual practice due to its strong focus on conservation of natural resources, through promotion of agro-ecology as an innovative approach to food production and ecosystem management. The project has also broken the barriers among rural communities in terms of access to finance especially youth. The synergies created enabled the intervention to link Barclays bank, a financial institution to support socially excluded youth groups through providing seed funding for small livestock business incubation. The project has also linked up the small holder farmers with private sector companies for marketing products and this has strengthened the area of entrepreneurship development. In this project, the farmers have partnership with Unki Platinum mine that is promoting local sustainable business solutions through providing market for organic produce for Shurugwi farmers. The intervention has also presented more livelihood opportunities through supporting beekeeping, and fish farming for income generation. In terms of production, “ the business as usual” practice is that farmers in rural communities normally produce for consumption with a little to sell but this project has demonstrated that rural farmers can rise and be a force to reckon with. The project produced a total of 519,024 tonnes of fresh organic vegetables and realised US$167,908 and this has uplifted their standard of living.

Nature Element

Forests / Wetlands

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Renewable energy / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

        

Environmental Impacts

The rehabilitation and protection of 146.4 hectares of wetlands resulted in improved conservation of 141 fauna and 419 flora species, making these wetlands rich in biodiversity. Investing in 8 solar powered boreholes promoted use of clean energy in irrigation as compared to use of diesel generators thereby reducing carbon emissions. The interventions facilitated the planting of 33,000 indigenous trees in nurseries together with conservation of natural woodlands which are carbon sinks. A total of 4 earth dams and weirs for water harvesting were constructed to secure water during dry season as a measure for improving irrigation, environmental health and resilience in the face of droughts. Significant impacts were achieved by conversion of 43.7 hectares of agricultural land from conventional to organic farming practices, eliminating 7, 866 kilograms of toxic chemicals pesticides and synthetic fertilizers per year, leading to improved ecosystems conservation.

Sustainable Development Impacts

In terms of sustainable development, this intervention has impacted on 4 goals that include goal 1 on ending poverty and all its forms and goal 2 of ending hunger. This has been achieved through the establishment of organic gardens that have enabled the community to produce 519,024 tonnes of fresh organic vegetables between March 2015 and December 2016. The project also contributed to Goal 7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable and modern energy through the establishment of 8 solar powered pumps. The other goal that has been impacted is goal 15 on protecting and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems through rehabilitation and protection of 146.4 hectares of wetlands. The natural forests are being sustainably managed and 33,000 seedlings were planted. Communities are in control of this development initiative and made their own contribution in terms of labour and local materials valued at USD41,490. This has enhanced ownership and sustainability of project.

Scalability

The issue of coping with climate change impacts is a big challenge that the local communities are grappling with. The other pressing environmental challenges include wetlands degradation, gulley formation, deforestation, veldt fires, water shortages and biodiversity loss. This project addressed this myriad of challenges in an integrated manner and offers examples of what other communities can do. At national level, the initiative has become a case study and model for water harvesting, sustainable smallholder agriculture and creation of market linkages. The initiative fed into the National Climate Change Strategy for Zimbabwe through LID participation in policy formulation consultation workshops. The initiative needs to be expanded at national level because Zimbabwe is a signatory to RAMSAR Convention and wetlands have become major biodiversity hotpots. This project has lessons that other communities can take up in terms of conservation and sustainable use at national level.

Replicability

The intervention needs to be replicated especially when considering the impact and opportunities in biodiversity conservation, wetlands protection and promoting ecological livelihoods options for marginalized communities. Zimbabwe places wetlands and resilience building strategies on top of program priorities due to the complex nature and form of shocks and vulnerabilities threatening wetlands. This initiative was also designed in consideration of the National Development Strategy, the ZIMASSET with priority on Food Security and Nutrition Cluster as well Poverty Reduction Cluster. The project has contributed to Food Security cluster through promotion of agro-ecology. At the local level, in Shurugwi, this project started with protection of 3 wetlands but is now being replicated at landscape level in the district covering 6 sites. Key lessons from this initiative can be used to inform similar strategies during replication in other districts or countries.

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