Across Zambia, worsening impacts of climate change including more frequent and intense droughts and floods have led to food, water and energy insecurity, especially among the country’s most vulnerable rural communities.
Clearing forests for agriculture, charcoal and fuelwood production, are among the country’s main drivers of deforestation. The majority of the 1.7 million population in the Province lives in rural areas, and depends on agriculture, forests and wildlife, yet these resources are being lost at a fast pace. This is especially apparent in Zambia’s Eastern Province on the drive from Lusaka to Chipata.
Other factors that contribute to the problem include, inadequate support for land use planning, poor agricultural and forestry resources management practices, untapped alternative livelihood options, and poor market access for marketable commodities and cash crops to farmers.
To address these urgent challenges, the Government of Zambia, with support from the World Bank, has launched a $33 million forest landscape programme to improve sustainable land management, diversify livelihoods options available to rural commodities, including climate-smart agriculture and forest-based livelihoods, and reduce deforestation in the country’s Eastern Province.
The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Programme, it was gathered, fits the Government of Zambia’s vision for addressing development and climate change challenges. It aims to enhance the benefits from sustainable forestry, agriculture and wildlife activities, and reduce the vulnerability of communities to the impacts of climate change. Delivering climate-smart agriculture technologies that boost productivity, improve resilience and reduce emissions to farmers is a key feature of the programme, sources disclosed.
“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,” says Dr. Ademola Braimoh, World Bank’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Coordinator for the Africa region.
An estimated 215,000 people will benefit directly from the programme and, of these, at least 30 percent will be women, the promoters disclosed. Key beneficiaries are rural communities in the Eastern Province’s nine districts, namely Chadiza, Chipata, Katete, Lundazi, Mambwe, Nyimba, Petauke, Sinda, and Vubwi.
“My chiefdom, like many other areas in Eastern Province, has been affected by deforestation. I am happy that the project will help us mitigate the effects of climate change as a result of deforestation,” said Senior Chief Lwembe of Nyimba District.
According to sources, the programme will work with local institutions to improve land tenure security and land-use planning. Similarly, on-the-ground activities will focus on scaling-up climate-smart agriculture, enhancing agro-ecosystem resilience, and improving community forestry management. This will include working with farmers to improve soil fertility management, and engaging agribusiness to enhance market access for smallholder farmers.
“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,” says Neeta Hooda, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank.
Zambia’s programme area includes 5 million hectares of tropical miombo forests and grasslands, which are home to globally significant biodiversity. This includes the Luangwa Valley, abundant with wildlife and water resources, and the Lukusuzi and Luambe National Parks that have significant revenue potential. The programme will support these parks through investments in infrastructure for park management and ecotourism, including equipment for monitoring the park and enforcement of regulations, including for poaching.
Funds for Zambia’s Integrated Forest Landscape project include $17 million from the International Development Association, $8 million from the Global Environment Facility, and $8 million from the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL).
Zambia’s programme with the BioCarbon Fund was the impetus for the country’s new, larger-scale programme launched last week in Chipata. It provides the foundation for activities that can generate results-based payments for verified emission reductions across the Eastern Province from the BioCarbon Fund ISFL in the future.
The bigger picture
The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Programme has been designed to align with the country’s broader development agenda, Vision 2030. This agenda includes goals for reducing deforestation and improving agricultural practices, particularly for farmers in the Eastern Province.
The Integrated Forest Landscape Programme will also inform Zambia’s national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and will serve as a pilot for jurisdictional REDD+ adaptation, replication and expansion throughout Zambia. The programme will provide overall guidance on actions to be undertaken in key sectors such as agriculture and energy.
“We are confident that this Integrated Forest Landscape Program will help Zambia meet the key objectives of our National Development Plan to reduce poverty and vulnerability to climate change,” says Alexander Chiteme, Zambia’s Minister for National Development Planning.