Climate change is causing more frequent and intense weather extremes in Zambia with a rise in both flooding and drought which have created food, water and energy insecurity.
The rural communities are particularly vulnerable to these changes.
In the Eastern Province of Zambia 1.7 million live in rural areas, depending on agriculture and the forest areas for their livelihoods and survival. However, the area is rapidly losing these key resources as forests are often cleared for agriculture, charcoal and fuel.
The problem has been exacerbated by inadequate support for land use planning, poor agricultural and forestry resources management, untapped alternative livelihood options, and poor market access for marketable commodities and cash crops to farmers.
The Government of Zambia, in partnership with the World Bank, has launched a $33 million programme to improve sustainable land management in the region, diversify livelihoods and reduce deforestation
The project will also have a key focus on climate-smart agriculture that boosts productivity, improve resilience and reduce emissions.
Named the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Program, it aims to enhance the benefits of sustainable forestry, agriculture and wildlife and reduce the area’s vulnerability to climate change.
Dr. Ademola Braimoh, World Bank’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Coordinator for the Africa region commented:
“The programme will work directly with smallholder farmers and local communities to help them adopt more efficient and climate-smart farming technologies that will increase both productivity and the climate benefits they receive.”
Estimates suggest that the project will directly benefit 215,000 people with at least 30% of these being women.
The key beneficiaries are rural communities in the Eastern Province’s nine districts, namely Chadiza, Chipata, Katete, Lundazi, Mambwe, Nyimba, Petauke, Sinda, and Vubwi.
The programme will collaborate with local groups and institutions to improve land tenure security and land-use planning. Activities on the ground will scale up climate-smart agriculture, enhance ecosystem resilience, and improving community forestry management.
In addition, the project will work with farmers to improve soil fertility management and enhancing market access for smallholder farmers.
Neeta Hooda, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank noted:
“We simply can’t reach our goal of reducing emissions and mitigating climate change if we don’t place communities at the center of this equation. If we start with improving how communities use and manage their land, we can increase their agriculture productivity while reducing forest loss and land conversion. That is change that is good for all—communities, government and the environment for generations to come,”
The project will cover 5 million hectares of tropical forests and grasslands which have significant biodiversity.
This includes the Lukusuzi and Luambe National Parks; the parks will receive support through investment in infrastructure for park management and ecotourism.
It is hoped that the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Programme will bring the country close to its 2030 development agenda which includes goals for reducing deforestation and improving agricultural practices.
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