Last week, the German Ambassador to Botswana and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Ms. Hellweg Margitt-Böette and her counterpart in Zambia, Ms. Anne Wagner-Mitchell visited some of the projects funded by the Federal Republic of Germany in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) in Botswana and Zambia from 23 – 24 May 2022.
Ambassadors, Hellweg Margitt-Böette and Anne Wagner-Mitchell were among high-profile guests at the handover ceremony of a motorized grader to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). The equipment which was procured by KfW will be used to maintain the Chobe National Park’s road network.
The German Government, through its development bank, KfW, has supported the development of KAZA since its inception in 2006. Germany’s cumulative investments of close to 39.5 million Euros have gone towards community development, human wildlife conflict mitigation, natural resources management, infrastructure development, protected area management, tourism development, and Covid-19 emergency relief.
The mission, accompanied by officials from Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, BirdLife Botswana, and the KAZA Secretariat, commenced with a visit to Pandamatenga in Botswana, where the ambassadors interacted with wildlife officials on a range of issues including human wildlife conflict as Pandamatenga is a hotspot on this issue. The delegation also toured six housing units built for the Department of Wildlife at Pandamatenga to help meet the department’s housing requirements and boost its capacity to discharge its mandate.
After Pandamatenga, the delegation proceeded to Sedudu Gate at Chobe National Park for an official handover ceremony of a grader procured under the Covid Relief emergency support project to maintain Chobe National Park’s road network.
Ambassador Margitt-Böette underscored the importance of regional cooperation and integration towards the realization of SADC’s long term socio-economic aspirations and development agenda.
SYMBOLIC HANDSHAKE The two German diplomats, Ambassadors Anne Wagner-Mitchell (right) and Hellweg Margitt-Böette pose for a photo at Kazungula Bridge. The architectural splendor was constructed to facilitate trade and promote regional integration among other things.
“The German Government support to KAZA tries to address the needs of the people. Of course, we support the KAZA Secretariat. We support with infrastructure. We also support park management. But first and foremost, what is important to us is to support the people and this is why issues of working on ecotourism, mitigation of human wildlife conflict and compensation of salaries when tourism was in a crisis during the covid-19 matters to us,” said ambassador Margitt-Böette.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr. Boatametse Modukanele thanked the Federal Republic Germany for their long-standing support to KAZA in general and Botswana in particular.
“This equipment bought through the Germany support will go a long way is ensuring that the park is maintained, the roads are in good condition and all those who is use it can not only enjoy the wilderness but cannot be worried about their vehicles breaking down because of bad roads. What l can encourage my colleagues from the department is that, please look after this asset,” said Mr. Modukanele.
German Ambassador to Botswana and SADC, Ms. Hellweg Margitt-Böette and her counterpart in Zambia, Ms. Anne Wagner-Mitchell pose for a group photo with Department of National Parks and Wildlife officers and other dignitaries after a brief tour of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, in Zambia.
The visit to Zambia began with a stopover at the Kazungula Bridge – where the two diplomats had a symbolic handshake as a demonstration of the cooperation and regional integration in SADC region. From the bridge, the delegation went to Livingstone where they interacted with officials from the Ministry of Tourism and representatives Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Panthera.
In the Zambian component KAZA, the Federal Republic of Germany has been actively involved in ongoing efforts aimed at revitalizing the 5,200 square kilometers Sioma Ngwezi National Park. The funding has gone towards the establishment of the park headquarters – offices; 25 staff houses, procurement of vehicles, field equipment, installation of radio communication as well as social infrastructure for health and education and setting up of the Sioma community campsite. A short video highlighting some of the interventions by the German Government in Sioma was screened.
The delegation went on a walking safari in Mosi oa tunya national park where they also interacted with the rhino anti-poaching and wildlife staff.
Under the COVID emergency relief project for Zambia, Germany has various initiatives including two patrol vehicles for rhino monitoring and law-enforcement and field equipment. Additional support was provided under the same project, with WWF Zambia as implementing partner towards human wildlife conflict – including 8 km hybrid electric fence installed along the park boundary, and an elephant restraining fence.
Germany’s Ambassador to Zambia, Ms. Anne Wagner-Mitchell described the mission as a success in as far as it afforded the delegation an opportunity to assess for themselves the ecological and socio-economic benefits being realised by KAZA through the implementation of the KfW implemented projects.
The two ambassadors described KAZA as a role model for regional integration through conservation and tourism development and expressed optimism about Germany’s continued commitment to future support for regional integration efforts.
The mission ended with a tour of Victoria Falls on the Zambian side, one of the unique tourist attractions in the KAZA.