By JULIUS PHIRI –
THE Government, with World Bank support, is implementing the Zambia Integrated Forest and Landscape Project (ZIFLP) in Eastern Province.
The total financing of the project was US$32.8 million and covers a period of five years between 2017 and 2021.
The project aims at providing support to rural communities in the province to allow them better manage resources of their landscapes so as to reduce deforestation and unsustainable agricultural expansion, enhance benefits from forestry, agriculture, wildlife and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
The project also focuses on improving livelihoods of local communities, sustainable forest management (carbon stock commonly known as commonly called REDD+), biodiversity conservation and improving institutional coordination among stakeholders.
Various institutions would be responsible for overseeing these components of the project.
They include ministries of Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources; respective provincial administrations and the ministry of National Development Planning among other stakeholders.
The project was officially launched by three ministers on Friday 16, 2018 in Chipata.
National Development Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme said the project had multiple components and has been established within the spirit of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
It is also in line with provisions of the Climate Change Policy.
Mr Chiteme said both the plan and policy underscore the need to have a well-coordinated approach to tackling development issues that interface with each other.
“The project espouses the spirit of leaving no one behind by, among other things, promoting an integrated approach to rural development and hence achieving inclusiveness in the development results,” he said.
Mr Chiteme said the Government, with the support of its development partners, would spend US$32.8 million on the various project components.
“These project components include development coordination, productivity improvement and poverty reduction as well capacity development of communities to manage local development initiatives and promoting appropriate investments in the landscape,” he said.
The minister said the project was in line with the development paradigm of the 7NDP.
He said the outcomes of the project would contribute significantly to addressing the strategic pillars of the plan on economic diversification and job creation, reducing poverty and vulnerabilities, reducing development inequalities and enhance human development.
Mr Chiteme said it was against the background of ensuring that all climate change related interventions were mainstreamed in the national development planning process that the Government clearly delineated the institutional framework for climate change and provided for the Ministry of National Development Planning to oversee the overall coordination.
He said this mandate has been given to the ministry in order that climate change initiatives are responsive to the national development planning processes.
“On the other hand the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will be the custodian of project implementation and will account for the project outputs in a coordinated manner.
“This is the team work that we have attempted to mirror in the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project,” he said.
Various institutions will be responsible for overseeing the five components of the project.
The institutions include: the ministries of Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources; respective provincial administrations as well as the Ministry of National Development Planning.
Mr Chiteme observed that the outcomes of the project would help address economic diversification and job creation, reduce poverty and vulnerabilities, reduce development inequalities and enhance human development.
He said everyone was alive to the fact that the multi-faceted and interlinked nature of the project was in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) which call for interventions to be tackled simultaneously in a coordinated manner within the spirit of doing more with less.
“The project we are launching today aims at improving the rural livelihoods through sustainable management and utilisation of agriculture, forestry and wildlife resources.
“Our expectations as ministers are that our permanent secretaries should journey together as one team and create a cohesive unit in order to leverage our collective resolve to enhance the welfare of the people in Eastern Province,” he said.
Mr Chiteme said Government expected regular updates about the project, which would also feed into the council of ministers as enshrined in the Climate Change Policy.
“It is also our expectation that the Project Implementation Unit will have clear performance indicators that will make everyone accountable,” he said.
The minister said the innovative nature in the design of the programme should serve as a good example for all sectors to work together in reducing the impact of climate change.
It will also improve biodiversity conservation, enhance economic productivity and improve livelihoods.
He commended the development partners for providing technical and financial support towards the development and implementation of the ZIFLP.
Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata said the rate of deforestation in Zambia was 276,000 hectares per annum.
She said the main drivers of deforestation were unsustainable agriculture and land use practices, timber and non-wood forest product extraction, high demand for wood-based biomass for energy and infrastructure development.
Ms Kapata said the Government had taken steps to address the challenges through the review of policies and legislation in forest, agriculture and wildlife.
Other measures include reforestation, which is a critical component of the project.
She said her ministry, under the project, would be required to put over 2,000 hectares of land under forest cover as part of measures to reverse the high rates of deforestation and contribute to lower carbon emissions.
The minister said Government, under the leadership President Edgar Lungu, is committed to ensuring that natural resources are sustainably managed through the implementation of relevant policies and legal frameworks.
To this effect, Government approved the National Forestry Policy in 2014 an enacted the new Forests Act Number 4 of 2015 which promotes community participation in forest management.
Ms Kapata said Zambia is part to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Lands minister said in its commitment to contribute towards reduction the global green house gas emissions, the Government has developed strategic documents and programmes like National Determined Contribution, National REDD + Strategy, National REDD + Investment Plan and National Tree Planting Programme through direct Government and donor support.
Ms Kapata said all the strategic initiatives are aimed at reducing deforestation whilst improving livelihoods of the local communities.
She said through a decentralised framework and enhanced coordination planning, her ministry and the provincial administration in Eastern Province, together with other stakeholder ministries, would ensure that all was delivered on the various components of the project as one entity.
Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said 1.7 million people live in rural areas with their livelihoods dependent on natural resources.
Quoting a Living Conditions Monitoring Survey of 2015, Mr Zulu said Eastern Province has proportions of the population living in poverty.
He said women and children were the most vulnerable.
He said climate change is compounding the challenges of rural poverty in the province.
“We have learnt that the project underlines the prioritisation of women empowerment and gender mainstreaming in development. In addition, the project will provide direct support to communities, demonstrating how climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management support local development,” he said.
World Bank country representative Ina –Marlene Ruthendberg said the project aims at providing support to rural communities in Eastern Province.
The communities would be allowed to better manage the resources of their landscapes so as to reduce deforestation and unsustainable agricultural expansion.
The ZIFLP launch was attended by Paramount Chief Mepzeni of the Ngoni speaking people, Luangeni Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Zulu, Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo, Patriotic Front (PF) Chairperson Andrew Lubusha, district commissioners and chiefs, among other people.