Panos Institute Southern Africa is implementing the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) to build the capacity of rural communities to engage in sustainable natural resources management and curb rampant soil or land degradation, fish depletion and deforestation.
The Deepening Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) project is funded by the Government of Finland through the Support to Civil Society Organisations in Environment and Natural Resources Management in Zambia, Phase 2 (CSEF 2) fund. The project is being implemented in four districts, name Katete and Petauke in Agro- Ecological Region 2, and in Kazungula and Sinazongwe in Agro-Ecological Region 1. The project seeks to address the problem of limited and ineffective community involvement and engagement in CBNRM, to build the capacity of rural communities in the four districts to play an active role in responses aimed at addressing issues of soil or land degradation, fish depletion and deforestation.
This project is inspired by the fact that Zambia currently suffers high environmental degradation caused by rural livelihoods being largely natural resource based. Due to high poverty levels, the majority of citizens over-depend on the environment for livelihoods, creating a situation whereby the environment is unable to adequately renew itself to ensure sustainability. This has created a situation of depletion of renewable natural resources which could have been preserved with effective sustainable management practice.
Through the Deepening CBNRM project, PSAf is addressing the following challenges which hinder the implementation and mainstreaming of CBNRM in Zambia:
- Lack of mechanisms for effective community engagement and involvement in ENRM
- Communities lack knowledge, and skills to adopt sustainable ENRM.
- Lack of favourable laws and policies, and limited compliance and ineffective implementation of existing laws and policies.
- Limited access to platforms through which local communities can learn, communicate and advocate for favourable legal and policy environment as well as enforcement of the laws and policies of CBNRM.
PSAf is cognisant of the fact that Zambia has put in place a number of policies, structures and programmes to address these challenges and foster environmental sustainability. These measures include the National Conservation Strategy of 1985, the National Environmental Action Plan (1994), the Environmental and Pollution Control Law, among others. In spite of these relevant instruments, PSAf is concerned that little has been achieved on the ground to address the root-causes of environmental degradation, and, the escalation of poverty has perpetuated the situation. some of these policies and laws are also not clear on the modalities of community engagement, thereby alienating them even further.
Stakeholders in the four districts identified limited community engagement and participation in the conceptualisation and implementation of the strategies as one of the reasons. These gaps have resulted in ineffective top-down responses with limited adoption at community level. It is clear that leaving out the community in the response is a sure way to fail.
Through the Deepening CBNRM project, PSAf is empowering local communities to diversity alternative sources of sustainable livelihood and poverty reduction strategies, positive sustainable usage of environment and natural resources for livelihoods, and application of conservation principles. PSAf is of the view that effective community engagement on this issue must start from policies and laws which then translate into programmes and strategies with supporting institutions for implementation.