sunrise over a river

Stories in Africa

Zambia’s Eastern Kafue Nature Alliance

Equipping Communities to Safeguard Kafue’s Natural Resources

Zambia’s Kafue Ecosystem, anchored by the more than 5 million-acre Kafue National Park, is a treasure not just for Zambia, but for all of Africa. The park is encircled by Game Management Areas (GMAs), where indigenous communities have taken care of their natural resources for generations.

All together, this is one of the largest conservation areas in the world and boasts the highest diversity of hoofed animals of any conservation landscape in the world. Kafue and its future are inextricably linked to an even broader landscape by wildlife corridors that connect the region’s protected areas.

Now, The Nature Conservancy’s decade of work in innovative community-based conservation — made possible by the steadfast support of our generous donors — will be getting a big boost. On April 22, 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Eastern Kafue Nature Alliance, in collaboration with private sector partners Kashikoto Conservancy Limited and Amatheon AGRI Zambia Limited.

The Alliance, which will be implemented by TNC, brings public, private, and civil society actors together with local communities to address threats to biodiversity in and around the eastern side of Zambia’s Kafue National Park. Designed to empower local communities toward conservation and sustainable management, and strengthen relationships among communities and the private sector, the $21.3 million program, funded with a $10 million USAID grant to TNC, leverages approximately $11.3 million from the private sector partners.

a small antelope peeking through tall grass

Taking a Strategic Approach

Many of the key drivers of biodiversity loss in this area, including high poaching rates, unsustainable forest clearing, overfishing, and destructive fires, are driven by poverty. Therefore, TNC and its Alliance partners will implement community-led approaches that focus on filling gaps in resources management and enhancing livelihoods.  These strategies include strengthening natural resource compliance in GMAs; facilitating market access for sustainable tourism and natural resource value chains; improving health care for mothers and children and access to clean water; and developing effective land and resource use planning, tenure, and governance systems in communities.

The Alliance expects that this five-year project will result in positive outcomes for both people and nature. The project will stimulate investment in the development of a place-based economy and contribute to the generation of local business opportunities. Communities will also be supported with additional skills and capacity to sustainably manage their forests, fisheries, and wildlife.

children holding hands in a circle
Community Benefits Children play outside the Misamba Community School, a building that received major improvements in 2017 with funds distributed by the local Village Action Group, which TNC helped to organize and provide technical oversight. © Georgina Goodwin

The Big Picture

The Eastern Kafue Nature Alliance is just one of many projects that will help protect and connect this vast ecosystem, which also includes the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) to the south and the West Lunga complex to the northwest.

“We’re extremely excited about the substantial contribution this project will make to TNC’s overall strategy in the Kafue landscape,” said Rob Munro, TNC Zambia Program Director. “As a building block in our work across the Greater Kafue Ecosystem, we can be sure that the Alliance will provide substantial benefits to both people and nature in this landscape, and that the positive impacts will be long-lasting.”

TNC’s support to local communities on resource management, governance, and sustainable finance in Kafue GMAs—combined with complementary investment in park and GMA infrastructure and management by partners—can help Kafue realize its potential as one of the continent’s great wildlife sanctuaries, while also safeguarding connectivity with KAZA and West Lunga. This conservation progress—across protected areas and community lands—will benefit people, too, creating a virtuous cycle of social and environmental progress.