A woman stands facing the camera amongst her soya crops near Kasungu, Malawi.

Using soybeans to improve livelihoods and promote biodiversity conservation around Kasungu National Park, Malawi.

Communities living around Kasungu National Park in Malawi traditionally grow maize to feed their families and a few other cash crops to generate income. High poverty levels and declining soil fertility have driven some community members into the neighbouring park to clear more land, hunt wildlife or harvest wood illegally to make ends meet. Kasungu Wildlife Conservation and Community Development Association (KAWICCODA) have started a transformative project with support from the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme to help change this situation using soybeans.

Soybeans are a cash crop that naturally fix nitrogen in the soil and thus improve soil fertility whilst simultaneously providing a steady income for cash-strapped households. This initiative, which includes promoting soybean farming among other activities, aims to strike a harmonious balance between biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development. This project targets local communities living within 5 km of the buffer zone around Kasungu National Park. 

More than 300 farming families benefited from this project by obtaining 40 kg of soybean seeds each, which are expected to yield an average of 500 kg per field. As a sustainability measure, each beneficiary will give 110 kg back to the project after the first harvest, thus allowing more families to benefit during the next round of distribution.

As the project unfolded, a group of enthusiastic beneficiaries – primarily farmers in the two traditional authorities of Chisinga and Kaphaizi – embarked on a journey of change and empowerment. Through intensive training sessions organised by KAWICCODA, these community members gained valuable insights into sustainable soybean farming practices. The training covered a variety of topics including soil management, crop rotation, pest control, and efficient water usage. 

Armed with newfound knowledge, the beneficiaries eagerly embraced the challenge of incorporating sustainable agricultural techniques into their daily practices. 40-year old Josephine Mwandira of Group Village Headman Chimombo under Mpepa Cooperative excitedly reported that, “having access to extension services will only improve my knowledge and ultimately improve the yield I expect to get from the 40 kg of soybean seeds I have benefited from the BIOPAMA project.” 

The BIOPAMA project is tracking and measuring the impact of these interventions on both the environment and the lives of the local communities as part of its monitoring and evaluation framework. Regular assessments will be conducted to gauge the improvement in soil health, the reduction of deforestation, and overall ecological resilience in the buffer zones.

As the soybean crop is expected to flourish due to the hard work of farmers tangible benefits are expected to unfold. The soybean cultivation not only provides a diversified and sustainable source of income for the beneficiaries but also contributes to the conservation goals of BIOPAMA by reducing the pressure on natural resources within the buffer zones.

The monitoring and evaluation team will also measure the economic status of the participating communities, which is expected to improve substantially. Income generated from soybean sales will empower families to meet their basic needs, invest in education, and improve healthcare. Reduced poverty levels should reduce these households’ reliance on illegal activities that could harm the biodiversity of Kasungu National Park.

Moreover, the project has facilitated increased cooperation among farmers living in this area. Farmers will use the Mpepa and Chengwe Cooperatives to share knowledge, pool resources, and collectively market their soybean produce. This collaborative approach will not only strengthen community bonds but also enhance the overall resilience of the local agricultural system.

At the start of this new era of soybean cultivation and farmer cooperation, we are confident that the communities around Kasungu National Park will be transformed into thriving examples of sustainable coexistence between people and nature. The soybean project, under the watchful eye of BIOPAMA and implemented by the dedicated KAWICCODA team, has become a beacon of hope, illustrating how careful planning, community involvement, and effective monitoring can lead to a future where biodiversity conservation and human prosperity walk hand in hand.

CLN logo and summary of job advert.

We are hiring an Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Coordinator!

Job Summary

The Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa seeks a highly motivated and experienced Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Officer (IPLCs Officer) to lead and support the implementation of initiatives that promote the rights, well-being, and sustainable development of indigenous communities in the region. This position will be responsible for fostering strategic partnerships, capacity building, and policy advocacy to advance the rights and interests of indigenous peoples in collaboration with local, national, and international stakeholders.

Overall, this post will provide technical and capacity-building assistance to CLN member Organizations (including all categories of membership) and serve as the primary relationship manager for IPLC partners, as expert and resource person on Indigenous Peoples and conservation issues for cross-cutting capacity, policy, and knowledge activities.

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s or advanced degree in a relevant field, such as international relations, conservation leadership, social sciences, or environmental studies.

  • Minimum 5-7 years’ experience as an indigenous leader or another professional role who has worked closely with, and on a mandate from, indigenous peoples.

  • Demonstrated experience in liaising with Indigenous peoples and local community groups, networks, and regional/international organizations.

  • At least 3-5 years’ experience in direct field-based delivery and project management.

  • Strong understanding of global conservation policies and frameworks related to

    Indigenous peoples.

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, for effective representation and reporting.

  • Ability to travel regionally and internationally to attend conferences and events.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft applications and online platforms for communication and

    information sharing.

Availability: This position is available immediately

Salary and other benefits: Negotiable based on qualifications and work experience

Closing date of receiving applications: 26 February 2024, please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Around 50 people in a meeting room pose for a group photograph.

Communiqué of the Community Conservation Congress held in Windhoek, Namibia

The First Africa Indigenous People & Local Communities Conservation Congress, organised under the theme “We are nature & nature is us”, convened between 25th and 27th of October 2023, brought together Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs) from the five regions of Africa to discuss, debate, and offer ideas on how to implement the Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) Kigali Call to Action and the Kigali IPLC Declaration.

The Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa proudly hosted this even in Windhoek, Namibia. Read the full Communiqué from the event in English here, in French here. The press release for the event in English here, in French here. 

WATCH: Interview on the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conservation Congress

Dr Rodgers Lubilo and Malidadi Langa discuss the main issues that were addressed during the first-ever African Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conservation Congress. Land rights, resource use rights, human wildlife conflict and building an African Alliance to amplify African voices are among the highlights. We will continue to work together with our partners across Africa to create a movement for conservation that truly benefits African people.

 

A group of people sitting in a circular meeting building.

Investigating the socio-economic conditions of communities in Luengue-Luiana National Park, Angola

Luengue-Luiana National Park in Angola is part of the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) that covers parts of five African countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe). This Park covers 22,610 km², and is patrolled by government rangers and 27 community game guards trained by ACADIR-Angola. This national park is not exclusively for animals, however, as 49,300 people currently live within its boundaries. In line with the other KAZA TFCA countries, Angola wants to develop a wildlife economy that will support people and wildlife living in this landscape. 

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