Malawi’s Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve offer visitors a unique and often unexplored perspective of this beautiful country. With Nyika’s high-altitudinal grasslands and rolling hills, to the more traditional safari experience that Vwaza Marsh offers, there really is something for everyone. Peace Parks Foundation has been working with the Government of Malawi since 2003 to help develop, protect and restore these landscapes.

With 2023 now in motion, there are some exciting milestones for conservation that lie ahead. Today, Peace Parks’ Communication Coordinator, Lésa van Rooyen, sits down with CEO Werner Myburgh to unpack what this year holds.

A Co-Management Agreement

Peace Parks Foundation has been looking forward to signing an innovative co-management agreement which will enable the creation of a legal entity called the Nyika-Vwaza Co-Management Trust. This trust is forging a new and modern approach to conservation through the establishment of a three-way partnership between Peace Parks, the Government of Malawi, and the local communities.

The trust will oversee the management of the two protected areas and is indicative of how progressive the Government of Malawi is through their open approach to trying a new conservation management model. The partnership will endeavour to take the best of both the private and public sectors, combining the efficiency and accountability of NGOs with the Government’s policy, oversight, and community expertise.

Community Support

Uplifting the local communities who live around the parks is a critical part of any conservation effort. Without their support, conservation simply remains a conversation.

Thanks to funding from the German Government through KfW Development Bank, Peace Parks Foundation has been able to implement several community projects here. This includes the erection of a fence to keep crop-raiding animals such as elephant out, as well as a continued water security programme.

2023 will see about 12 000 people who live around Vwaza Marsh have access to potable water through a water reticulation system. At present, the people living here must take water out of dangerous sources that crocodiles, and hippos often inhabit. This will not only help provide fresh and clean drinking water but also help irrigate crops, resulting in access to a more nutritious and balanced diet.

With Nyika meaning ‘where the water comes from’, the plateau plays a significant role as a water catchment area that eventually flows into Lake Malawi. With over 9 million people directly dependent on the Lake for water, transport, recreation, electricity, irrigation, and, most importantly, fish, protecting a park like Nyika becomes vital.

Peace Parks Foundation is incredibly proud of and thankful for the work that has already gone into keeping these wilderness areas intact and functional for future generations and is excited to see the positive changes that the new co-management agreement will bring.