Switzerland boosts APOPO Zimbabwe demining project
Improving food security and wildlife conservation.
Harare, Zimbabwe – Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has provided US$1 million to APOPO Mine Action for clearing a dense minefield in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor in southern Zimbabwe for the next two-years. The project aims to improve food security and wildlife conservation in the area.
Through the new initiative, at least 1,630,419 square metres of land will be made safe for local communities and wildlife in the area. The new intervention builds on an earlier phase implemented in 2020 that cleared 1,093,152 square metres of landmines.
Southern Zimbabwe faces numerous challenges due to the existence of landmines laid four decades ago which have imperilled the lives of both people and animals. The project titled, Enabling Development through Landmine Clearance in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor will create a safe passage for local communities as well as tourists while reducing human-wildlife conflict in the area.
Landmines will be cleared in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – that combines three unique national parks: the Limpopo Park in Mozambique; the Kruger Park in South Africa and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe before engaging the surrounding communities in food security related activities. The project will complement Zimbabwe’s efforts of becoming a landmine free zone by 2025.
According to the SDC Regional Director of Cooperation, Mr. Manuel Thurnhofer, “The support will help save both people and animal lives; reduce mine-related risks and raise the living standards of the local communities through increased tourism in the region.”
“Switzerland is working with Zimbabwe, to build a brighter, productive and safer future. We are very hopeful that the project is going to reduce the ever-increasing numbers of human-wildlife conflict in southern Zimbabwe and increase job opportunities made possible by increased tourist’s visits in the area,” said Mr. Thurnhofer.
Mr. Tesfazghi Tewelde, the APOPO Mine Action Regional Manager for Africa said, “APOPO appreciates the Government of Switzerland’s continued commitment to our vital humanitarian work in Zimbabwe, and for its ongoing support to improve food security and livelihoods of these vulnerable communities in southern Zimbabwe. The support will maintain mine action as a critical enabler for the safe return of land to both humans and wildlife and above all will save many lives.”
The Sengwe wildlife corridor is a critical region for the migration of elephants as well as endangered wildlife such as Wild Dogs in the region. The presence of landmines has been causing accidents and preventing animals from migrating out of Gonarezhou, leading to overpopulation which in turn puts pressure on the fragile ecosystem and inevitably leads to human-wildlife conflict. Removing landmines will allow conservation authorities to achieve a balance between conservation and better land use by local communities in the area.
Zimbabwe is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, where landmines have killed more than 1,500 people and 120,000 head of livestock since independence in 1980.
For more information on the support of the SDC for Zimbabwe visit their website.
Richard Nyamanhindi, Communication Officer, Embassy of Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: +263 772 126 891.