In the Simalaha Community Conservancy the Sesheke and Sekhute Chiefdoms are taking ownership of their own destiny: following a community-led approach to improve basic human rights – such as access to food, health, livelihood opportunities and education – by responsibly managing and protecting natural resources and wildlife. Situated in the Zambian component of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Simalaha is a shining example of a dedicated government working with NOGs and communities to create a better future for people living in extremely rural areas.

Simalaha comprises 180 000 ha of communal land and lies within one of six key wildlife dispersal areas in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, namely the Chobe Zambezi dispersal area that reaches from Chobe National Park in Botswana to Kafue National Park in Zambia. The conservancy is fundamental to re-establishing wildlife populations and their migration routes here and Peace Parks, through funding from the Swedish Postcode Lottery, MAVA Fondation pour la Nature, COmON Foundation, and various other donors, have been working alongside the people of Simalaha since its establishment with a focus on improving the social, economic and environmental circumstances of the region.

Water is a major factor in sustaining life in Africa. In 2022, extra water will be brought to where it is most needed in the Simalaha Community Conservancy. New pans will be opened up to enhance water security for over 1,500 households, enhancing agriculture and providing water security for cattle in the Herding for Health) programme. As well as this, more boreholes will be drilled and shallow wells and pans will be opened across various Village Action Groups in the region. This will bring much-needed water for both people and animals and in doing so, provide opportunities for lifting lifestyles out of poverty. With water from the Kasaya River routed via local schools both the community and wildlife will benefit. An exciting development will be the extension of the existing buffalo sanctuary.

Much is on the cards for the further development of conservation agriculture. In partnership with the Simalaha Community Conservancy Trust an agronomist will develop Agri Hubs. The growing of high-value crops such as onions and sundried tomatoes will be trialled with conservation agriculture farmers. Excitingly, beehives will be distributed and newly trained beehive farmers. To aid sustainable fishing practices, legal fishing nets will be purchased and distributed to registered fishermen who hand in their illegal fishing nets. One of the goals of these and other initiatives is to help switch the unsustainable use of natural resources to practices that are eco-friendly and promote the creation of livelihoods for communities.

Many new faces will appear on Peace Parks TV next year, as a new office will open in Livingstone and various experts will come aboard to help with the development of a human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategy and to roll out the Herding for Health programme across the region.

Keep watching Peace Parks TV to follow the exciting changes ahead for Simalaha Community Conservancy.