ENVIRONMENT, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira says the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) should work to transform lives of surrounding communities among many other things.
Countries under the KAZA TFCA are seeking to collaborate in the conservation of natural resources and promote tourism whilst boosting the socio-economic environment for their local communities.
Addressing delegates at the KAZA TFCA Ministerial Meeting currently underway at Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls, Minister Mupfumira said everyone has a role to play in realizing this dream (transforming lives).
“The focus of our efforts should be to transform the lives of the communities throughout the KAZA landscape, contribute to the socio-economic development of our nations as well as improve the conservation status of flora and fauna of the TFCA.
“This dream can only be achieved through collaborative efforts with all stakeholders that include the private sector, civil society, local communities, development partners, academia and research institutions among others.
“As it stands, KAZA TFCA is moving in the right direction, having forged a number of partnerships for development. We have a number of projects that are taking place in the KAZA Region and the support is just overwhelming but we still need to do more. Our local communities are supportive of the various initiatives,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira added that the KAZA TFCA meeting should also reflect on all the progress that has been recorded to date and also map the way forward on any challenges concerning its implementation and development.
The KAZA TFCA meeting was last held in 2016 and it is expected that this year’s meeting will create an opportunity to discuss, agree on the way forward and provide policy guidance on matters relating to the area.
The Zimbabwean Minister said tourism is making positive contributions to various economies especially in terms of foreign currency generation adding that there is a need to not just sustain such contributions at current levels but to increase the same.
“In saying this, I note that tourism is largely a low hanging fruit. Thus our thrust should be two-pronged, that is to grow both international arrivals and domestic tourism so that the locals may also enjoy their God-given resources. All this can only happen when we continue to look after our pristine wildlife and environment.
“It is this collaborative effort in conserving the pristine wildlife and environment that has seen two member states within the KAZA region receiving internationally recognised awards. Namibia received the Best Safari and Wildlife Destination award while Zimbabwe received the Sustainable Destination of the Year 2019 award at ITB among others,” she said.
She also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the KAZA TFCA Secretariat, her team and the generous support from partners such as the KfW, Germany government and Peace Parks Foundation.