The Simalaha Community Conservancy is a beacon of hope and an outstanding example of how a community-led approach to conservation can reshape communities and their land for the better. The Sesheke and Sekhute Chiefdoms, who own the land on which the conservancy lies, are working closely with Peace Parks Foundation and the government to improve their basic human rights while managing and protecting natural resources and wildlife. One of the ways that this is being done is through sustainable and nature-friendly farming techniques called conservation agriculture.

Careen Nyambe, one of Simalaha’s dedicated wildlife scouts, takes us with her to learn just how much these farmers and their nature-friendly farming techniques are making a difference to the community and the environment.

Throughout many parts of Africa, inefficient slash and burn farming techniques have been traditionally used for centuries. This has proven to be a major cause of deforestation in countries like Zambia. To help reduce the pressure on the environment, Peace Parks Foundation is collaborating with local communities and training farmers in conservation agriculture techniques that aim to replace destructive, unsustainable, and labour-intensive methods used in the past. These traditional methods often cause land degradation and result in poor harvests.

By using conservation agriculture techniques together with the water sources such as rivers, pans or wells, farmers are now able to grow a variety of healthy and nutrient-rich crops all year round. This contributes to improving food security and the health of people living through a more balanced diet. Not only are these farmers now able to consistently put food on the table but selling surplus fresh produce at markets allows them to afford safe housing, schooling and other important basic services such as healthcare.

More recently, Peace Parks Foundation has teamed up with Argentinean agronomist, Diego Cerrudo, to oversee the implementation of the agri-hub pilot project in Simalaha Community Conservancy. This has seen farmers growing high-value crops such as onions and tomatoes, which will then be sold in a formal market. If you would like to know more about this fascinating project, watch this video.

One of Peace Parks’ main goals within Simalaha is to help communities switch from the unsustainable use of natural resources to sustainable, eco-friendly practices that promote livelihood opportunities. So far, this community conservancy has been incredibly successful in its endeavours and is paving the way forward for future community-led conservation projects across southern Africa.