Zambia sets global benchmark for community forest conservation

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Twelve communities in the Luangwa Valley are benefitting from direct cash payments of K50 million ($2.3 million) thanks to a partnership with forest conservation business BCP (BioCarbon Partners). 

The ground-breaking Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), facilitated by BCP in partnership with communities, the Zambian Forestry Department and Department of National Parks and Wildlife have resulted in direct monetisation of forest resources by local people.

The public-private-community projects set a new standard in forest conservation that puts the nation at the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change, while protecting forest resources and creating livelihood opportunities for local people.

His Royal Highness Chief Bunda Bunda said: “My community has worked hard towards this REDD+ verification success for Zambia. We thank the government for helping our Chiefdom to access REDD+ benefits and to BCP for the partnership, which has increased employment, livelihoods and development projects.”

LZRP is the world’s first REDD+ project to pass seven Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) audits, enabling income to be generated from credits that offset the carbon footprints of organisations producing greenhouse gases.  LZRP was also the first REDD+ project in Africa to achieve triple-gold validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard for exceptional social impact. 

BCP CEO Dr Hassan Sachedina said: “We are privileged to support government and community efforts to conserve the Luangwa-Lower Zambezi ecosystem, one of the greatest remaining wildlife strongholds on earth.

“This has been a tough year due to the pandemic; tourism and conservation funding have declined, but through the extraordinary efforts of our partners such as Forestry Department, the LCFP has channelled K50 million into communities in 2020. We are grateful for USAID backing the LCFP’s development.  This is just the beginning of a long-term, self-sustainable conservation model which benefits communities and wildlife”.

At 944,000 hectares, the triple-gold CCB validated LCFP is Africa’s largest project by hectares and improves the lives of 217,000 people in 12 chiefdoms, while LZRP covers 40,000 hectares and benefits 7,000 people in 1 chiefdom.

About BCP

BCP is a leading African conservation social enterprise with a mission to make wildlife habitat conservation valuable to people. BCP employs over 160 people across 13 chiefdoms in Zambia, partnering to help conserve 1 million hectares of habitat in critical ecosystems.

www.biocarbonpartners.com

Organic Farming Scaling Livelihoods in Sandwe

The Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) and Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) extend across both Eastern and Lusaka Provinces. The two projects encompass communities that are among those worst impacted by poverty as well as low and erratic rainfall in Zambia. One of the fundamental objectives of the REDD+ strategy to forest conservation is to contribute significantly to the reduction in nutrition insecurity within the areas of implementation.

Over the last few months, BCP, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, have trained 110 Lead Farmers within the LCFP and LZRP project area. The trained Lead Farmers are part of the conservation farming livelihood initiative that is aimed at increasing food security and improving nutrition for the project beneficiaries. On average, we expect the 110 Lead Farmers to cascade their knowledge to Follow Farmers and reach approximately 660 Farmers and 3,960 beneficiaries in total. These new Lead Farmers are taught how to farm organically using climate smart farming techniques that avoid chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators that are not only costly to farmers but are also known to have a harmful effect on the environment.

Organic farming systems rely on a number of innovative techniques including crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, green manure, and bio fertilizers. Mr. Nafitali Shawa is one of BCP’s successful Lead Farmers within Kamutu Village in Sandwe Chiefdom (LCFP) who is practicing organic farming. He utilizes crop rotation and a technique called “Stover Management” which involves the use of retaining leaves and stalks on a field after harvesting as a form of organic fertilizer instead of burning.

In addition to these common practices, Mr. Shawa and his wife, Telesa Banda, enhance their soil fertility through the addition of cow manure from their herd of cattle. Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living components of the soil that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil that has been organically nourished has a better soil structure and a greater capacity for water retention.

Mr. Shawa’s 2019/2020 harvest season has been distinctively productive without the use of any chemical fertilizers. He planted 10kg of hybrid maize seed which yielded 60 x 50kg bags of maize! Through crop rotation, Mr. Shawa also planted 30kgs of soya beans from which he was able to harvest 21 x 50kg bags. During the same season, Mr. Shawa planted 10kgs of groundnuts and was able to harvest 15 x 50kg bags unshelled.

By using climate smart farming techniques, Mr. Shawa has been able to support his family with food for a whole year, while still producing excess crops for sale. Through the sales, Mr. Shawa has been able to send his two children to school as well as purchase a Smart phone for his Grade 12 son to complete eLearning during Covid-19 pandemic.

Our hope is to support at least 34% of our project households within the next 3 years by improving agricultural techniques that result in increased food security and general quality of life.

Lending a Hand in a Time of Need

As the world adjusts to the “new normal” of face masks, social distancing, and regular sanitization, here at BCP, we are focusing on the need to protect the health of our families, our staff, our partners, and our community.

Over the last few days we have seen spikes of over 15% in cases and 40% in deaths in Zambia which is a sign that now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant.  Supporting our team, our partners and the communities we work with through these trying times is a top priority for BCP. In addition to the measures that we have taken in our office, we are making every effort to extend the same level of support to our partner Chiefdoms, as well as small businesses across Zambia. 

In April, we donated 3.5 tons of soap to cater to each household in each Chiefdom in the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) to help support household sanitation efforts.  A total of 35,000 households benefitted. In July, we donated 100 wash basins and 3,000 re-usable masks to Mambwe District Education Board for use in various schools around South Luangwa National Park.

As the world enters an economic recession not seen since the Great Depression of 1929, we are seeing dramatic decreases in tourism and funding available to conserve African biodiversity strongholds.  Never more than now is it important to try to support these organizations who are doing great complementary work in the same ecosystems where BCP operates.  Our hope is that when we emerge from COVID, that the “ecosystem” of businesses and NGOs supporting the same Chiefdoms as us will still be strong. 

In an effort to aid small businesses that are facing unprecedented adversity, BCP’s Board rallied an emergency fund to provide financial grants to tourism businesses and conservation NGOs in Eastern and Lusaka Provinces.  The facility named the “REDD+ Emergency Business Support Fund” disbursed 1 million Kwacha (US$56,000) as grants to 14 small tourism businesses and NGOs. This fund will help these organizations to pay community employees subsistence packages. The grant is set to impact 6,876 beneficiaries directly and over 61,600 beneficiaries indirectly.

BCP also became a member of BCCET (Business Council Covid19 Emergency Taskforce) in Zambia. This council was created to bring together leaders from the private business sector to coordinate efforts to mitigate the financial, economic, and social effects of Covid-19.

We believe that it is critical to stand united and combine all efforts to support both our communities and the Government in the fight against Covid-19.

 As a reminder, please remember to vote for BCP through the Environmental Finance Awards under the category “Best Project Developer – Forestry and Land-Use”. Entries close on 31 July 2020. 

Women Leading Livelihoods in Forest Conservation

Through a partnership with Forestry Department, BCP-supported livelihood initiatives are benefitting women, their families, and their communities. In the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), the livelihood initiatives are providing women with the education, resources, and support to grow their own businesses.

The increased income from forest conservation opportunities that this gender mainstreaming initiative provides has helped to not only encourage women to step into positions of leadership, but also increase the wellbeing of their families. Today, we are proud to highlight two female leaders who have grown their own bee-keeping and agro-forestry businesses as a result of this conservation livelihood partnership.

Bee-Keeping: Mrs. Charity Chulu – Nsefu Chiefdom

Mrs. Charity Chulu, pictured here with her family, is a bee-keeping farmer in Chitunda Village, Nsefu Chiefdom. She is delighted with her success:  she has harvested and sold honey through a direct to export market partner of BCP which has allowed her to pay school tuition fees for her children for the entire year.

“We shall continue to keep our forest intact because it has brought a lot of benefits, one of them being beehives which has given us money to send our children to school. It also brings a good environment to our villages as it has got a part to play in bringing rainfall and good weather all around” – Mrs. Charity Chulu

Bee-keeping is a valuable and sustainable livelihood that has brought Mrs. Chulu, and many other bee-keeping farmers within the LCFP partner Chiefdoms additional income to support their families. There are currently 11,200 bee-hives deployed supporting 1,120 households and in turn, 6,720 beneficiaries.

Agro-forestry: Mrs. Enny Simufwi –Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

Mrs. Enny Simufwiis the Lead Agro-forestry Farmer in Mweeshang’ombe community zone, Bunda Bunda Chiefdom. BCP first came to know Enny in 2013 as one of the earliest trained conservation farmers under the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project.  Today, she leads and supports nine other agro-forestry farmers. Through BCP’s partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture, Enny has been able to improve her farming practices and increase her groundnut and maize yields using conservation farming techniques. Enny has also planted 78 citrus trees providing not only a source of income, but also a source of added nutrition from the fruits.

Enny had a lot to say about her flourishing orchard and their fascinating benefits.

“I planted mangos and oranges for home consumption. It is part of Agro-forestry.” Pointing to a Sennas ciamea Tree she adds, “Rainfall here is good because of these trees. When we plant these trees, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and also help with rainfall.”

She adds, “the Faidherbia Albida is used as ‘green manure’. The leaves drop in October and November and make the soil so fertile.” Moving on to the Neem Tree she adds: “These leaves are used as medicine for chickens and people and cure about 200 diseases.”

Our ambitions are to scale up nutrition security in the 13 Chiefdoms we partner with over the next 36 months.  It’s an ambitious target, but it’s a necessary one.  According to Government statistics, some of these community areas of Eastern Zambia have some of the highest poverty and food insecurity rates in the country.  Our goal is to change this through forest protection.  In order to live BCP’s mission of making conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people, we have to pursue strong partnerships targeting the most vulnerable households and scaling Enny and Charity’s stories across thousands of households.  We are proud that BCP’s partnerships with Government are building livelihoods and continuing to improve the livelihoods of women, their communities, and their farmlands and forests, and we are proud of Enny and Charity empowering their families through trees.

Possibly the Best Green Charcoal in the World!

Sustainably managed forests are both a renewable energy source for communities and a carbon sink for the planet. Roughly only a quarter of Zambians have access to electricity, thus charcoal and wood fuel are essential for heating and cooking and will likely remain that way for years. But how that fuel is sourced can make a huge difference to our forests, communities, and planet.

As it stands, Rufunsa’s deforestation rate is approximately 11 times higher than the national average. Fortunately, this can change. Producing Eco-Charcoal is one way to protect forests on community lands, providing legal and sustainable fuel, and generating funds for Government and communities. By selectively harvesting mature trees while delicately cutting the remaining trees to allow for natural re-growth, forests can produce charcoal for energy and then regrow in a sustainable manner. This process can protect our ecosystems while generating income and boosting community livelihoods.

Eco-Charcoal was started by BCP Trust in 2013 in partnership with communities and the Forestry Department to produce a sustainable charcoal using improved kilns from a forest in Rufunsa District. To date, 424 hectares that are on an 18-year rotation are being managed by community “Charpreneurs” (charcoal entrepreneurs) and 31 households are involved as both producers of Eco-Charcoal and protectors of the forests that the charcoal is sourced from. 

Photo Caption: Davy Mabunda, a BCP Charpreneur undergoing refresher training during April 2020 in Ndubulula Zone. The refresher training was conducted by Mr. Simon Bweupe (Forestry Department, Senior Extension Officer) in collaboration with BCP Facilitators. The purpose of the training was to refresh and train Charpreneurs on sustainable harvesting methods, sustainable forest management and pre and post harvesting activities.

The project produces around 270 tons (270,000 kgs) per year and has generated $39,798.00 in payments to Charpreneurs, and $12,636.00 for the production and conveyance licenses to the Forestry Department between 2017 and 2019.

Eco-Charcoal sells two branded products:

  • A wholesale volume bag of 90kgs
  • A premium 5 kg bag found in supermarkets 

It is hard to compete with the informal sector which doesn’t pay the same taxes.  So we’re looking at ways to scale Eco-Charcoal by selling more kilos. However, using high-efficiency kilns which result in a 20% longer burn time than standard charcoal and the peace of mind knowing that your charcoal has been produced through sustainable methods by the caring hands of our “Charpreneuers,” buyers cannot go wrong with Eco-Charcoal! 

“I have been participating in the Eco-Charcoal Project from 2013 to present.  In the past, I wasn’t involved in any income generating activity, but after BCP brought the Eco-Charcoal project, I am able to pay school fees for my children and procuring farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. I have also used money from Eco-Charcoal to buy goats and other monthly essentials.” Christina Miti – Charpreneur from Ndubulula Zone of Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

We are humbled by the support received from our long-standing partner, Forestry Department, as well as Musika, who have helped us along the way with funding to support our marketing efforts. Remember to look out for our bags of Eco-Charcoal at Melisa’s Supermarket, Mudpackers and Butcher Block. You can also purchase from us directly by sending a WhatsApp, text or call to +260 976 321 164.

New Scouts on the Block – Team Delta!

Safeguarding nearly 1,000,000 hectares of protected forest is no easy feat. It requires resources, strategy, and collaboration. In partnership with the Forestry Department and Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), BCP conducts monthly aerial monitoring of forests to monitor for any unauthorized activity. If a plane finds there is any illegal charcoal, logging, or wildlife crime they turn to the boots on the ground – Community Scouts. Community Scoutsare an important tool for our Community Resource Board (CRB) partners to protect their community forests and the wildlife in them.

Today, with our Government and community partners, we are excited to share a bit of hope with a story of community job creation as we announce the expansion of the Community Scout team assigned to REDD+ projects BCP implements in Zambia. Currently, the partnership between CRBs, Government and BCP sponsors 57 Community Scouts recruited directly from REDD+ Partner Chiefdoms.

The 4th intake of Community Scouts (aptly named ‘Delta’ to follow the alphabet) were selected in early 2020 and when it is safe to start basic training, will attend 3 months of training at a DNPW training facility.  After basic training, these community scouts will begin to patrol community forests under the supervision of DNPW.  Delta targets 40 community scouts, bringing the number of community scouts supported under REDD+ in Zambia to just under 100.  Competition for Delta was stiff:  717 community members applied, 76 applicants (53 men and 23 women) were selected for training and only 40 will graduate.  This high attrition rate means that only the most committed community members join the team to protect their community forests.

A key part of REDD+ is creating value for communities to create incentives to conserve.  Job creation is one such incentive.  When Delta graduate, the number of partner Chiefdom community members on REDD+ project payroll will be around 75% of total staff on payroll.  This shows the extraordinary ability of forest conservation to create local jobs in a tough year when jobs are being lost in many places.

BCP is grateful for the investment by The Darwin Initiative, The Lion Recovery Fund and National Geographic who have graciously funded part of the costs to select, train, equip and remunerate scouts.

As Mpanshya CRB Chairman, Mr. Crispin Chikopa adds:

“Watching each year’s recruits learn, grow and mature into skilled managers of Zambia’s wildlife and community forests certainly gives us a sense of fulfilment as we realise a shared passion for making the conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to our communities.”

BCP is humbled by the support received from our generous donors and partners

A Conservation Farming Success Story

In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, BCP’s support to a conservation agriculture initiative is enhancing food security in some of Zambia’s most vulnerable communities. Our Government partners and BCP have been partnering with local farmers to train them in sustainable agricultural practices that restore soil quality, increase yields, and reduce overall food insecurity in their communities. Higher yields and richer soils also mean there is less of a need to clear forest land for additional food production. A win for both people and the planet!
 
Mr. Ernest Mwale is one of the “Lead Farmers” supported through this partnership with Government in Jumbe Chiefdom in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Since Mr. Mwale adopted conservation farming techniques, there has been a significant increase in his crop yield. With traditional conventional farming methods, he used to harvest 13 bags of maize in a season. After he shifted to conservation farming techniques catalyzed through the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), Mr. Mwale more than doubled his yield to over 30 bags of maize. The increase in production that he has achieved is life-changing.
 
“This is amazing. Since I started Conservation Farming I have been food secure with my family throughout the year. I have also been practicing crop rotation with groundnuts, distributing the risk failure of one crop. I will still be able to have a good harvest from the other crop while maintaining soil fertility at the same time. I no longer need to shift my fields. – Mr. Mwale

Mr. Mwale’s leadership has been exemplary. Lead Farmers are typically responsible for mentoring 15 “Follower Farmers;” however, Mr. Mwale supports more than 30 Follower Farmers. He provides his Follower Farmers with training in climate smart agriculture that will help them to increase their household incomes as well as their family’s food security.
 
Household nutrition security is elusive in rural Zambia, especially as rainy seasons become more erratic. Poverty rates in the Eastern Province are some of the highest in Zambia, which in turn is one of the highest in Africa. Achieving nutrition security is fundamental if forests are to be protected in a rural economy which depends on agriculture.  Climate finance conservation agriculture is funded by the sale of community forest offsets. BCP’s partnerships with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Forestry Department are central to REDD+ financed climate smart agriculture activities.

In the face of the effects of climate change, promoting Climate Smart Agricultural technologies is the way to go because community members who adopt these technologies see immediate benefits with improved yields recorded, which in turn creates food and nutrition security at a household level.  In turn, they don’t need to shift to new fields which often means clearing intact forest.” – Shadreck Ngoma, BCP’s Agricultural Development Co-Coordinator


Community livelihood initiatives such as such as Conservation Agriculture, EcoCharcoal, and Bee-keeping have been pillars of BCP’s livelihood approach since our founding in 2012.  Although both projects have been VCS verified and are triple gold CCB, it is clear to BCP we need to do much more.  This is clearer in a COVID-19 year where the economy is contracting and there is more of a need for agriculture to produce.  Our efforts to create impacts environmentally, but socially as well, through the generation of community forest offsets are creating social safety nets and hope in rural Zambian communities.

BCP Zambia’s First ‘Climate Positive’ Company

During this challenging time, we want to take a moment to share a bit of hope and inspiration in honor of Earth Day.  

BCP is proud to be one of the first companies to offset more carbon than we have emitted since our founding. It’s a move that’s aligned with global projections – that in order to limit the overall global temperature increase to 2°C by 2050 we must not only achieve zero emissions, we must achieve negative emissions – and we must do so urgently. As a carbon offset company it’s no surprise we’re interested in lowering our emissions, but going beyond carbon neutral today – and striving for carbon neutral since our founding – required new thinking and efforts.

We found inspiration from other companies. We applauded Microsoft’s announcement to offset all of the company’s emissions since its founding in 1975.  Similarly, we were inspired by Max Burgers, a Swedish company which offsets 10% more carbon than the company emits, making it ‘climate positive.’.

“We made it company policy not to buy beef due to its climate change impacts. But even then, I realized we needed to do much more. Our internal emissions are under a microscope and we look monthly for ways to reduce emissions and waste.” – Ms. Joke Hoffman, BCP COO

As of the end of December 2019, BCP has offset more carbon than we have emitted since our founding in 2012. Our current figures show we are 200% climate positive, meaning we have offset 200% more carbon than we have created since our company’s formation. Carbon offsets have played a major role in this achievement, but like banning the buying of beef, we’ve taken other steps to be more sustainable: using renewable energy in our offices, using smaller cars and motorcycles for our operations, instituting a ‘hypermiling’ driving policy, recycling, as well as other small changes to reduce waste and energy consumption.

Our internal efforts ad up and are important, but we could not have come close to our goal without forest protection. And the same goes for global efforts to keep  the world temperature increase to 2 C. Protecting forests is essential. Today, the world is losing roughly 13 million hectares of forest a year. Zambia is 60% forested which means that it would only take 3 years and 5 months to clear Zambia’s 45 million ha of forest. If deforestation were a country it would rank third after both China and the United States as a source of emissions! 

We retired 400 Verified Carbon Units to help us offset unavoidable emissions during 2019

It is now more apparent than ever that we must act. The good news is that it’s possible. If your company would like to go climate positive, please contact us to let us know if we can help at info@biocarbonpartners.com or buy offsets here (https://www.biocarbonpartners.com/buy-offsets/).

Does Wildlife Help Forests Store More Carbon?

During these difficult times around the world, one source of hope is seeing the return of life to landscapes where conservation efforts are taking root. One of these stories of restoration is BCP’s Rufunsa Conservancy – a private 40,000 hectare game reserve that protects 60 kms of frontage of the Lower Zambezi National Park and is the main site for BCP’s Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project.

Despite its proximity to one of the most wildlife-rich parks in Zambia, this area has long been depleted of wildlife due to poaching. This is beginning to change. We are now seeing a resurgence of species like lions, sable antelope, southern ground hornbills and roan antelope.

BCP teamed up with Lion Landscapes to help us monitor some of the trends we have been seeing. Despite the best efforts of predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards, large herds of roan and sable are now often seen. When we did some (non-scientific) back of the envelope calculations, we estimated that the amount of dung dropped on the Conservancy was the equivalent of around 6 full 747 cargo jets of fertilizer. That’s a lot of fertilizer! The BCP team and our partners have been thrilled by the amounts we’re finding as it tells us that we’re not only protecting forests, but we’re also helping to conserve wildlife.

“Well-managed forests provide much more than carbon storage, a sustainable source of firewood, or building materials. Healthy forests also support a host of wildlife species” – Dr. Alayne Cotterrill, Lion Landscapes

As part of the annual carbon audit trees are remeasured.  In the last two years, on average the trees are getting bigger.  This was pointed out by Francis Eaton, lead auditor from SCS Global based in California:

“Compared to other miombo areas of East Africa where I have worked, the miombo across the reserve is healthier and trees are noticeably bigger. While assessing the impact of the community scouts I noticed that evidence of tree cutting, and human foot trails are almost non-existent, and this fact is not lost on the wildlife. Each year I return to assess the carbon project, I see more and more wildlife returning to the area, including some species I have never encountered before in my East Africa work.” – Francis Eaton, Carbon Verification Forester

The increase in flora and fauna across the Conservancy can be attributed to some of BCP’s management interventions. For the past 8 years, BCP has invested in a partnership with DNPW to build a trained community scout team to protect forests and wildlife.  In the early days, the scouts were filling up floor space with the wildlife snares collected on patrols. Nowadays, we rarely collect any snares and operational coverage has increased. 

“In 2011 on my first visit, all I saw was one bushbuck sprinting away. Sable, lion, hyena and other species are more common now. When we started the project we thought the Conservancy’s forest were mature and we did not expect growth spurts. The links may be anecdotal for now, but we are thrilled reduced fire stress and increased wildlife numbers cause trees to store more carbon.” – Dr. Hassan Sachedina, BCP

Our efforts to preserve the Rufunsa Conservancy forest to generate carbon offsets has not only helped enhance forest growth but it has also brought back wildlife to the area. We are increasing our efforts to help restore wildlife across more areas and to reduce fire impacts moving forwards as part of our mission of making wildlife habitat conservation valuable to people.  The carbon offsets may be hard to see, but the presence of lions and antelope are undeniable, and quite frankly, inspiring.

BCP’s Response to COVID-19: A Message of Hope

I live in a small tourist town that is the gateway to South Luangwa National Park, one of Zambia’s most prized and visited tourism destinations. Today it’s a ghost town. The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, and Zambia feels it deeply. As of 30 March there are 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zambia, and there are calls for the President to announce a state of emergency. The copper price (which sustains our economy) has dropped 30% since January, tourism has collapsed, most businesses are in a state of panic, inflation has spiked, and unemployment is rising. I’m scared to even think what could happen if the infection rate becomes exponential in a country with such under developed public health capacity. 

At BCP, our bottom line is threatened, yet our role and our vision remain more important than ever.

Climate finance, which BCP channels into communities, is critical. With the collapse of photographic and hunting revenue streams, combined with the Luangwa River flooding farms and a reduced tax base for government, the climate finance channelled by the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) are central to peoples’ livelihoods in our partner communities.  In 2020, the benefits we commit to communities will be over $3 million. These funds will primarily go to agriculture support, health, water, and educational infrastructure. 

Despite the crisis, our work and our support continues, and there are some additional measures we are taking:

  • Our board has approved a USD $50,000 grant to support tourism related community jobs. This is to help businesses in the chiefdoms where we have partnered to provide subsistence packages to community employees. Our contribution is part of a wider private sector coalition effort to support government.
  • Where we can, we also fund micro-support packages, for instance we donated soap to every single household (1,200 in total) in the LZRP to help with sanitization.  Our policy of buying Zambian products where possible takes on more meaning as we do our best to support local businesses stay afloat. 
  • For our co-workers, fondly dubbed BCPeople, we have assured them that our goal is to keep everyone employed throughout the year. We have also invested in soap, wet wipes, sanitizer and face masks for all six of our offices, and for each vehicle in our fleet.  Staff who are mobile are equipped with sanitizer and masks.  Staff using public transport are collected directly from home.  Our offices now run strict sanitization every two hours of hands and door handles. 

We have also increased pay for the lowest paid members of BCP staff to 18% higher than the statutory minimum.  We are introducing a health subsidy to help buy healthy food for all staff in our six offices.  We have offered staff remote work options, and empowered staff to take all their annual leave even if not accrued.  In March, a bonus pool from 2019 was paid out.  We have introduced a USD 2,800 Emergency Loan Fund to help staff who face emergencies.  In January, BCP staff, most of whom live in remote areas with limited employment possibilities, received an average increment of 10% across the board.  All staff and their families have access to a company medical fund.  To take the sting out of cooking fuel costs, a subsidy has also been provided to BCP staff to buy Eco-Charcoal at reduced costs.

While we hear of people at risk of losing employment, we are creating up to 80 additional jobs.  In 2020, we hope to have 202 people employed, which indirectly benefits 1,212 people who depend on our salaried staff.

We have formed an Emergency Response Team and put the company on ‘red alert’ where we monitor the situation by the hour, not by the day.  We are ready to shut down any office within 30 minutes to self-isolate if an outbreak is reported in a nearby neighbourhood. 

While this crisis is unprecedented in our lifetimes, our work is so important at community level that we need to keep climate funds flowing in order for rural communities to access basic staples and services during these difficult times.  We are fortunate to have such strong and supportive partners who, in spite of their own economic challenges, are staying true to their carbon reduction commitments.  We plan to  keep investing and growing and sharing our message of hope and optimism. I am reminded of navigating a small aircraft through a storm front between Mfuwe to Lusaka.  When the turbulence, rain and lightning got rough, I reverted to my training and focused on 2 instruments to keep the wings level wings level and to stay out of the center of the storm. Eventually we landed trouble free. I am optimistic COVID will be the same. And imagine, weathering the storm based on a model that supports climate change mitigation and conservation efforts – that message keeps me optimistic.

We will continue to review the situation and to act in the best interest of our people. 

Here’s how YOU can help! Click on the link below to purchase offsets from our Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) to help support our communities. Click the “Buy Offsets” tab in the top right hand corner of the page. For every 10 tons of carbon offsets purchased, we retire an additional 1 ton, making your purchase ‘climate positive’!

https://www.biocarbonpartners.com/

1,200 pieces of soap delivered to a partner Chiefdom

Written by BCP’s CEO, Dr. Hassan Sachedina