The singing and dancing started at 10am in the morning as the Kumudzi Kwathu Drama Group called out to the Ndubulula Community to come and gather. This was a special day that the local community had been waiting for, as this was the day that the first round of community revenue-share from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) would be delivered to local communities.
The delivery of community revenue-share from a conservation project is a significant event, especially in this area of Rufunsa District, where heavy unsustainable charcoal demand from the nearby capital city of Lusaka, combined with high levels of rural poverty, help to explain why deforestation has become a problem in recent years. A baseline survey conducted in 2012 estimated that 88% of local households live in poverty, and 70% of households in the LZRP Project Zone relied on income from charcoal production as a major source of livelihood.
One of the goals of REDD+ is improving community livelihoods. Although the conserved forest of the LZRP is on private land, REDD+ offset revenue is being shared with neighboring local communities to spread benefits and to reduce pressure on Rufunsa Conservancy. These ‘conservation fees’ are based on communities performing to help protect Rufunsa Conservancy. In this first distribution, four Community Zones with a population of approximately 1,200 households, are receiving a total US$64,000. Most of the funds will go to community development projects selected by the communities; these absorb 82% of the funds. The balance is shared amongst the Chief (6%), the Headmen (6%), and the Cooperatives (6%) for their help in ensuring illegal activities stay out of Rufunsa Conservancy. This REDD+ revenue share amount is separate to an additional US$145,000 that was directly invested into the same communities in 2015 through support from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) and Musika, a local partner organization.
This exciting occasion, filled with the color of chitenges and singing and dancing, included a dramatic performance about a family who became involved in the LZRP, who then benefitted from alternative livelihood projects. The play showed that by protecting the forest, they earned money through REDD+.
The Rufunsa District Commissioner was the Guest of Honor at the Ndubulula REDD+ Revenue
Sharing celebration, and stated: “We are confident that the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project being applied here will go a long way in complementing the Government’s effort to sustainably improve the livelihoods of people in this community and bring forth a brighter future.” A ceremonial public Conservation Fee signing ceremony between the Government, Traditional Authorities, BCP and Cooperatives was also held. Headman Lumwengo, a Village Leader, shared that: “No words can really capture the joyous feeling in my heart on this day. It started like one of those sweet stories when the REDD+ revenue share to the communities was announced but today it has come to pass. I would like to encourage every member of this community to join forces in protecting the REDD+ project area if we are to continue benefiting from it.”
On the same day, the community received a hammer mill purchased through the REDD+ Revenue Share to help them process maize. Ndubulula also chose for boreholes to be drilled using their REDD+ Revenue Share as surface water becomes more scarce. Hassan Sachedina, the Managing Director of BCP, added: “BCP’s mission is making African forests valuable to people. This milestone today of Zambian communities directly benefitting from REDD+ revenues reflects that. We are grateful to the Zambian Government for their support and to buyers of offsets from Lower Zambezi who helped to make this wonderful occasion happen.”
If you would like to contribute to improving community livelihoods in Zambia`s Rufunsa District, while also reducing your impact on the environment, you can – through the purchase of Forest Carbon Offsets from BCP`s Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. Please visit Stand For Tress; or for corporate purchases please contact BCP`s Sales, Marketing & Communications Manager, Andrea McWilliam email@example.com.
This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.