Earlier this year, in recognition of International Women’s Day, APAM made a pledge to support Conservation Lower Zambezi’s (CLZ) community engagement projects. CLZ is a non-profit organisation that works closely with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and is committed to the protection of wildlife and the sustainable use of natural resources in the Lower Zambezi. In places like Zambia, where humans and wildlife coexist, providing support to the community forms a key component of wildlife protection.
Sadly, women are still an undermined and undervalued group within many societies. CLZ proudly supports the empowerment of women, running programmes that engage women in conservation whilst financially empowering their needs. CLZ currently supports the ‘Mbeli’s’ (meaning ‘moving forward’ in the local language) a women’s group in The Chiawa GMA.
As part of our corporate social responsibility initiative we hosted a number of events to raise funds for an empowerment workshop which focused on developing the women’s skills and creating means of income. In addition, the group encouraged members to take ownership of a business and find a market for their products. We are pleased to report the workshop was a great success. The ladies were provided sewing training (using the APAM sewing machines!) so they can now make table runners, napkins, head bands and simple pieces of clothing using some vibrant African prints. In addition, they received financial training and had the opportunity to explore the park on a game drive.
The Chiawa Game Management Area is home to a growing human population that relies almost entirely on subsistence crops. Yet the area is also home to a healthy elephant and hippo population – both frequently pass through villages and fields where they either trample or ‘raid’ crops and granary stores – resulting in conflict and resentment from the local community. The Game Drive was the first time the women had been in a national park. It provided an opportunity for them to view animals in the wild in a non-threatening manner. By increasing knowledge and engaging the women in conservation topics, CLZ aims to improve their attitudes towards wildlife and natural resources. This educational approach helps to build a local community that takes pride in Zambia’s natural heritage and feel responsible for its protection.
We are currently developing our 2019 initiatives in support of CLZ community engagement programmes – watch this space!