The Kariba Project protects almost 785,000 hectares of forests and wildlife on the southern shores of Lake Kariba, near the Zimbabwe-Zambia border. One of the largest registered REDD+ projects by area, it sits between the Chizarira, Matusadona and Mana Pools National Parks (also a World Heritage Site), and Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. It connects these four national parks and eight safari reserves, forming a giant biodiversity corridor that protects an expansive forest and numerous vulnerable and endangered species – including the African elephant, lion, hippo, lappet-faced vulture and southern ground hornbill.
In recent decades, Zimbabwe has suffered from political and economic turbulence. With limited economic opportunities, desperate communities have delved deeper into the forests, clearing it for subsistence farming and fuelwood. More than a third of Zimbabwe’s majestic forests have been lost, creating further instability for people with already precarious livelihoods.
Kariba is a community-based project, administered by the four local Rural District Councils (RDCs) of Binga, Nyaminyami, Hurungwe and Mbire. As such, the project supports a range of activities beyond environmental protection, promoting the independence and wellbeing of these communities. Improved clinic amenities provide better healthcare, infrastructure including new roads and boreholes improve daily life, and school subsidies are offered to the poorest quartile of the population. Project activities in conservation agriculture, community gardens, beekeeping training, fire management, and ecotourism create jobs and facilitate sustainable incomes, benefiting the entire region.
The project serves as a corridor between existing national parks, resulting in a vast and contiguous wildlife area. The project’s biodiversity benefits include a reduction of the poaching pressure on wildlife through regular patrolling, in close cooperation with the local councils. As of January 2014, over 600 snares had been removed from the bush, which signifies a substantial relief of the pressure on the local wildlife. An extensive biodiversity assessment found a total of 150 mammal, 504 bird, 133 reptiles and 274 butterfly species in the region. In addition, the natural resources in the project area provide crucial livelihoods- fruits are collected for food and homesteads are constructed exclusively from naturally available material. Several local trees, like the Baobab tree in which chiefs are traditionally buried, are important for the cultural identity of local communities.
Since the beginning of the project, 31 schools have been supported by the project with equipment, new buildings, and teachers’ wages.
A major success has been the implementation of nearby community gardens and plantations, which are used not only for educational purposes, but also to generate additional income, crucial to sustaining school expenses.
From July 2016 to June 2019, 152 boreholes were resuscitated or repaired.
From July 2016 to June 2019, over 8,250 participants benefited from several workshops on improved agriculture, and 18 community gardens have been active in the area.
From July 2016 to June 2019, 107 beekeeping workshops were held across the project area. To date, over 5,000 people have participated and over 600 beekeeping kits have been distributed, benefiting a total of 1,119 people.
Furthermore, the fast growing and drought resilient Moringa oleifera, which brings significant benefits to the local people due to its diverse properties, has been selected for plantation. Tea from dried Moringa leaves, leaf powder and oil extraction all contain nutritional and medicinal benefits. From 2014-2016, sales from Moringa tree plantations benefitted a total of seven schools and over 150 community members.
The Kariba African Wildlife Corridor Project is expected to generate nearly 52 million tonnes of emission reductions over a 30-year time period. This REDD+ project has been validated and verified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). VCS established a robust quality assurance standard that projects use to quantify GHG emissions & issue Verified Emissions Reductions. The project has also achieved Gold Level validation & verification to the Climate, Community, & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, developed by the CCBA and managed by the VCS. The CCBA is a partnership of leading NGOs that ensures projects credibly mitigate climate change, contribute to the sustainable development of local communities, and conserve biodiversity. Furthermore, the Kariba African Wildlife Corridor Project received approval by the Australian NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard) and has won several awards, for example was named finalist in the “Land for Life Awards” of the UN Convention on combating desertification, and also in the “Equator Prize” of UNEP.
The Kariba corridor has numerous threatened and endangered species, including:
- African elephant
- African painted dog
- Lappet-faced vulture
- White-headed vulture
- Southern ground hornbill
From July 2016 to June 2019, 3,876 team-days were spent patrolling, and over 3,400 snares have been removed from the field.