Update from the field: Zambia February 2022

By: Kaala Moombe, Malaika Yanou, Freddie Siangulube, Pauliina Upla, Sandra Cordon.

Miombo woodlands, Silalwaambo Hill in Munsaka Village, Chief Siachitema. Credit: Miyoba Bweembelo, CIFOR

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the COLANDS team in Zambia continued work In the second half of 2021, with a focus on stakeholders in the Kalomo Hills Local Forest Reserve No. P.13 (KFR13).

August 2021: A National Stakeholder Dialogue on KFR13 was jointly organized by CIFOR-Zambia and the Zambia Forestry Department and held virtually on 6 August 2021, with participants in multiple locations including their Royal Highness Chief Chikanta, Chief Sipatunyana and Chief Siachitema joining from Choma. This was the final  event in the series of sessions arising from a district stakeholder meeting held in the town of Kalomo almost one year earlier, 3-4 September 2020.  The August meeting, with  39 participants and 24 organisations, aimed to present and discuss a model to better manage KFR13, one that would restore landscape functions through sound and culturally sensitive governance that would enhance livelihoods, incentives and sound benefit-sharing mechanisms facilitated by solid stakeholder participation. Given that both formal and informal settlements exist in KFR13, encroachment from settlements and agriculture occur. Claims to settle in KFR13 are based on land ownership and user rights, and power struggles exist between the traditional system and the State as well as claims based on historical or ancestral land ownership.

During the August meeting, the value of the COLANDS initiative and stakeholder engagement was emphasized. It was noted that COLANDS supports dialogue on best practices that ensure a balance between economic development and ecological integrity in the local area.

Key messages from the event included:

  • Better support is required to meet communities’ needs through investments, sustainable agricultural practices, and market linkages.
  • Community participation was emphasized, including developing awareness of how daily activities have affected the area and raising awareness of why conservation matters.
  • Any landscape management model must prioritise restoration of livelihood sources for people, include climate monitoring, and promote co-existence.
  • Stakeholder engagement should include community sensitization and awareness programs and continuous tree management and planting exercises.
  • Local communities must be encouraged to use forest resources carefully, jointly managing the forest with the State, and benefits of forest restoration should be clearly outlined to the local communities.
  • The Forestry Department must promote formation in Kalomo of Community Forest Management Groups (CFMGs), which have been established in Northwestern, Eastern and Muchinga provinces.
  • Resolving disagreements between traditional leaders and government is essential to moving forward.

New management model for KFR13

Plans were set for a subsequent meeting to develop next steps in devising a management model for the Forest Reserve, mindful of such issues as the legal implications of  proposed co-management, population and infrastructure investments, and stakeholder engagement. Minimising deforestation was emphasized as critical to good management and key to reducing siltation in rivers and dams as well as conservation of headwaters of the Kalomo River. Participants said a new model should include measures to gradually reduce the area population to reduce degradation; and promote dispute resolution between traditional leaders and government.

The Forestry Department was asked to obtain a legal opinion on implementing COLANDS activities in the Forest Reserve. It was agreed that during a planned follow-up meeting, participants would try to identify a 100,000 ha area as the model for sustainable management through a participatory approach.

October 2021: site scoping meeting and field mission

A site scoping meeting and mission was held 5-10 October 2021, initially in Kalomo where nine participants, including representatives from CIFOR and Kalomo town council, discussed site selection criteria and identified sites for a subsequent field scoping mission. There was strong interest from Kaingu and other villages, including Moono and Matakala, in the Bbilili Hot Springs – a heritage site that has been degraded and requires restoration. (Site selection criteria was developed and a validation workshop was held 15-17 December 2021; however, sites had not yet been visited by that time.)

Field missions were carried out 7-9 October 2021 to four villages (Mailamale Cheeba Msalundu near Mubombo Ulilanyama in Chikanta chiefdom; Kaingu and Munsaka i.e., Silalwaambo Hill along KFR13 in Siachitema chiefdom) to interview key community-level stakeholders concerning the potential 100,000 ha sites, conduct a preliminary assessment, and photograph the candidate landscapes. The team – nine people from CIFOR, Kalomo Town Council, Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Zambia’s Department of Agriculture representatives and the Voice of Kalomo media outlet – was guided by local people, including six from Siachitema and two from Chikanta chiefdom. 

December 16-17 2021: site selection and validation workshop

The sites were also reviewed by some 42 people from 14 organizations during the site validation workshop (in December 2021, see below) including CIFOR, Chikanta, Siachitema and Sipatunyana Chiefdoms, numerous government departments, and Kalomo administrative bodies as well as the Zambia Community Based Natural Resource Management Forum (CBNRMF), a CIFOR partner in the COLANDS initiative.

Four sub-groups were created to investigate types of resources and their status; existing management practices; and identify suitable implementation activities. Based on group work, the following sites were selected and will be visited for further assessment in the next work phase, to be finalized with partners ZCBNRMF and the Forestry Department.

Siachitema Chiefdom

  • In Bilili Ward: Bbilili Hot Springs, Kayoya (“cold spring”), Mount Siakaunda
  • In Naluja Ward: Sibulyobulyo Village (Cheeba Malundu), Mapampi.

Chikanta Chiefdom

  • In Omba Ward: 62 villages along Dongo/Nanzhila River
  • In Kasukwe Ward: Pakapaka and Nalube villages.

During the validation workshop 16-17 December 2021, a human rights approach (HRA) to conservation of natural resources and biodiversity was also reviewed, with an eye to international law, respect, protection, promotion and fulfillment of rights. Such an approach requires addressing biodiversity and habitat loss, and preventing their negative impacts on human rights; and aims to guarantee equality. Protecting rights of Indigenous Peoples is significant, as the loss of biodiversity not only poses a grave threat to their natural resources and livelihoods, but also to their cultural identity and survival.

A series of measures to ensure equity in actions to address biodiversity loss and in the use of the benefits of biodiversity were discussed, including rights to free, active, meaningful and informed participation. The HRA fits well with the ILA principles, particularly with regard to rights.

January 2022:  private sector study

Identifying potential entry points to engage more effectively with the private sector to improve resource management and commodity production – and potentially, reduce deforestation – is a key research focus of the COLANDS Zambia team. This research, conducted in Kalomo district, will likely have implications for other regions and countries, and more specifically aims to better understand how commodity production impacts land use, local livelihoods, and environmental objectives. A particular focus is on the role and influence of different private-sector entities and actors along key value chains of maize, tobacco, cattle and charcoal. These four commodity supply chains were identified for their contribution towards livelihoods strategies for the local communities in Kalomo district, in addition to their impact on deforestation and degradation of forest and other landscapes.

The research had been delayed for several months due to COVID-19 restrictions that were finally eased in late 2021, allowing field travel to collect primary data in January 2022. Individual and focus-group interviews were conducted with stakeholders in Kalomo, Choma and Lusaka, ranging from producers and marketers to representatives of local government and traditional authorities and companies.

The study seeks to guide the application of ILAs in the context of the private sector to contribute to improvements in landscape resources management and to reducing or mitigating deforestation in Kalomo. Early findings are suggesting potential entry points for private sector engagement in ILAs, which are central to the COLANDS initiative. That, in turn, is expected to contribute to more equitable and sustainable landscape resources management in Kalomo.

PhD students

The COVID-19 crisis halted PhD student Malaika Yanou’s field work in Zambia, so she instead developed her second research paper during in the second part of 2021. That research focused on local knowledge integration within landscape dynamics across seven southern African countries – Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, and Lesotho. The main review questions primarily considered: what procedures and methods are used to integrate Indigenous local knowledge into environmental and conservation projects; understanding  challenges and opportunities of knowledge integration; unveiling power relations that shape knowledge integration processes; the debate on the role of decolonizing knowledge in efforts towards knowledge integration and co-production.

This collection of publicly available data, and Yanou’s previous literature review conducted on Tonga Indigenous local knowledge, can be considered important  steps in advance of field work, providing solid historical and validated background data for two main reasons. First, such material contributes to strengthening knowledge for the preparation of fieldwork and interviews; second, it illuminates the gaps that must be filled through more appropriate methods. Returning to the study site and re-organizing field work activities are a priority.

Freddie Siangulube participated in an interactive data collection workshop in Kalomo district in October 2021. The event aimed at helping stakeholders brainstorm about how multistakeholder platforms (MSPs) can remain innovative in helping identify and resolve landscape challenges; and to later influence policies to recognize principles of landscape approaches during planning processes. Representatives from government agencies, a traditional leader, researchers, and local NGOs participated and for the first since inception of data collection, a private-sector representative – the regional manager of Tobacco Board of Zambia – also took part. He had already engaged with local tobacco farmers and in some target villages, had facilitated out-grower schemes that included support through loans and agricultural inputs. He described MSPs as “important in engendering transparency among farmers, traditional leaders and the civil society on matters of mutual concerns.”

Interestingly, the initial analysis of workshop submissions showed that MSPs in their current form do not inspire consensus among stakeholders. Instead, workshop participants generally agreed that local-level MSPs must be transformed to become more inclusive (how inclusive remained an issue of discussion) and focus on local problem-solving, rather than “appeasing financing partners’ goals”.

Between October and November 2021, Siangulube and colleagues began spatial mapping exercises as part of data collection in Habulile, Mudenda, and Mubombo Ulilanya villages where land use is contested. Spatial mapping was used as a tool for observing conflicting goals and trade-off negotiations involving various land-use preferences, such as conservation areas, agro-pastural land and water, among community members. Initial findings show a marked contrast in the way village level MSPs negotiate for intra/inter land use conflicts and trade-offs. Critical factors include spatial location of villages (those in and near forest reserve versus those near centres of traditional administration).


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