Tendai Mugabe : Senior Reporter
Government yesterday launched the Campfire review process in Harare that seeks to increase community participation in wildlife conservation activities. The review process is being supported by the European Union to the tune of 12 million Euros for the next 18 months and is likely to start in February next year.Campfire was established in the late 1980s to ensure sustainable utilisation of wildlife and other natural resources in communal areas.
Launching the review process, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said the process seeks to provide new avenues of improving policy, regulatory and institutional framework to empower communities as custodians and beneficiaries of their natural resources.
She said the review process was in line with Zim-Asset objectives on employment creation.
“Issues of employment creation, value-addition and beneficiation are the underpinning principles of the Campfire review process,” she said.
“More importantly, the Campfire review process signals initial steps of re-engagement between EU and the Government of Zimbabwe. It is the Government’s hope that the review process will be done in the best interest of empowering communities to participate and benefit from environmental, social and economic sustainable management of natural resources and strengthening capacity and governance frameworks for natural resources management in Zimbabwe.”
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said natural resources were critical in the development of communities. She said Zimbabwe was endowed with vast natural resources including animals and plant species.
“It is sad to note that the sustainable utilisation philosophy is under threat from several countries and animal rights groups that are strongly opposed to it.
“Sustainable utilisation is done for conservation benefits and for the people who live with wildlife or in close proximity to protected areas,” added Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Minister Muchinguri said Zimbabwe’s Campfire model introduced in the late 1980s became a world leader in community based natural resource management.
She, however, said its gains were eroded over the years as communities were sidelined from directly benefiting from their natural resources.
President of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe chief Fortune Charumbira hailed the involvement of traditional leaders in the review process.
He said traditional leaders were key stakeholders in all projects undertaken in their areas of jurisdiction.
“We are very excited by this approach to business. Let us practically involve the right people in every initiative. The right people at times are said to be illiterate or not civilised, ” he said.
“For Campfire to be a leading framework for robust wildlife management it has to restructure itself and look to the people directly and traditional leaders.”
Head of the EU Delegation in Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme and other stakeholders in wildlife conservation also attended the launch