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© WWF Zambia
© WWF Zambia

The Greater Kafue Ecosystem is connected by the Kafue River which runs from north to south across Zambia at approximately 1,576 km in length, with a catchment area of approximately 156,000km2.
The ecosystem has notable protected areas (PAs) such as Kafue National Park (KNP), its nine surrounding Game Management Areas (GMAs), Lochinvar and Blue Lagoon National Parks, the Kafue Flats, and Lukanga Swamps.
This ecosystem boasts of one-third of Zambia’s elephants (approximately 6,500 animals), 11 main vegetation types, and 16 of Zambia's 24 natural habitats, 21 different antelope species,155 species of mammals, 510 species of birds, 70 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, and 60 species of fish more than any other ecosystem in Africa.

Despite this biodiversity richness the ecosystem is coping with a number of threats namely
  • Deforestation and encroachment on Protected Areass,
  • Climate Change,
  • Human Wildlife Conflict,
  • Underfunding,
  • Unsustainable Natural Resources (NR) exploitation,
  • Over-abstraction of water and along the stretch of the Kafue river water quality deteriorates rapidly with increase in nutrient and sediment loads and rises in electrical conductivity, especially around the copper-rich areas upstream to the agriculturally active areas of Mazabuka and industrial activities in Kafue town.
This ecosystem is critical to the country ecologically, economically, and socially. Power from Itezhi-Tezhi, Kafue Gorge, and Upper Kafue Gorge Dams account for 50% of total hydropower in Zambia. Nearly 20% of the national livestock herd is grazed on the plains in the Kafue Flats. Fisheries in the ecosystem are valued at an estimated figure of $26 million. Another key ecosystem upstream of the Kafue Flats is the Lukanga Swamps with a Ramsar status; it's one of Zambia's most important wetlands. Wetlands in the ecosystem are economically significant in that products derived from fishing, hunting, and agriculture support a population of approximately 6.1 million people in the hinterland.

  • WWF Zambia is currently supporting the following intervention in addressing the threats above:
  • Agro-ecology and habitat protection through the healthy herding approach, Zonation and fire management,
  • Forest landscape restoration through assisted natural regeneration,
  • Community based natural resources management through strengthening community governance structures, Livelihoods Development, community led enterprises and initiatives 
  • Natural Resource Protection through supporting community led Law enforcement, HWC mitigation and innovative technology,
  • Sustainable fisheries management,
  • Wetlands management and restoration through supporting the implementation of Environmental flows, Nature Based Solutions and Bankable Based Nature Solutions,
  • Ecological research and monitoring,
  • Collective action through Multi-stakeholder platforms and community led advocacy.

© WWF Zambia

The Luangwa River originates in the Mafinga Hills of the Luangwa-Malawi watershed in the north-eastern part of Zambia.  The Luangwa was identified as one of the longest remaining free-flowing rivers in Zambia, and is one of the biggest unaltered rivers in Southern Africa.  Its seasonal changes support some of our most valued wildlife populations, vibrant communities that are spread across 25 chiefdoms, and a growing tourism industry.
Furthermore, the Luangwa basin is the third largest in Zambia after the Zambezi Main River and Kafue Basins, and one of the least disturbed. The Luangwa is one of Zambia’s greatest assets and provides our country with abundant natural capital and ecosystem services. The human population of the basin is low. Subsistence agriculture occurs along the river network in areas with fertile soils. Other valued natural resources include fish, grazing for cattle and wild plant medicines as well as rich mineral resources for mining projects.

Emerging significant threats in the Luangwa are:
Current and planned large infrastructures, such as hydropower dams, water abstraction for a variety of uses, land use changes, and habitat destruction.
Commercial agriculture, extractive industries such as mining, and a relentless unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. Poverty and associated unsustainable subsistence are the most important drivers directly affecting this landscape.
Climate change projections pointing towards higher temperatures and hydrological extremes of droughts and floods will exacerbate the negative impacts from anthropogenic influences. Accelerated deforestation of river catchments due to illegal logging, and a growing urban communities' mal-adaptation to the energy crisis, providing a ready market for charcoal.

Wildlife: The Luangwa Valley is one of Africa’s prime wildlife sanctuaries.  It supports some of the highest concentrations of elephants and hippos in Africa; the endemic Rhodesian giraffe, more commonly known as Thornicroft’s giraffe; one of the few refuges for reintroduced black rhinos in Zambia; over 400 bird species, and endangered animals including lions, leopards, buffalo, and African wild dogs.
Tourism: It has Four national parks and Game Management Areas contributing to Zambia’s tourism sector and creating opportunities for local communities. For example, $27 million dollars was generated from South Luangwa National Park alone in 2015.
  • Climate Change Adaptation in Forest and Agricultural Mosaic Landscapes Project to increase the resilience of productive landscapes and rural communities through organizational innovations and technology transfer for climate change adaptation.
  • Sustainable Luangwa: Securing Luangwa’s Water Resources for Shared Socioeconomic and Environmental Benefits Through Integrated Catchment Management: To address Barriers to protection of the Luangwa river source through effective management of headwater forests in order to secure the Luangwa river source area;
  • Sustainable Fisheries Project in Small Water Bodies in The Tributaries of Luangwa River in Eastern Province: To enhance management of ecosystems through responsible planning of fisheries and water use.

© WWF Zambia

The Sioma Ngwezi Management Complex (Silowana Complex) comprises Sioma Ngwezi National Park (SNNP) and the southern portion of the West Zambezi Game Management Area.  These are approximately 5300 and 7000 square meters respectively. The SNNP largest national park but least stocked and least developed for tourism.
The Complex borders both Angola and Namibia and is part of the contiguous set of protected which are all falling within the Kavango Zambezi Trans frontier Conservation Area (KAZA). The central location of SNNP within KAZA makes it a critical connectivity landscape for elephants and other large carnivores. The Silowana complex’s high diversity of animals is key to conservation and genetic improvement of the animals in the KAZA TFCA. The following species have been recorded in the area: 419 bird species comprising of terrestrial and wetland birds; 56 species of reptiles and amphibians and 53 species of mammals (carnivores, herbivores and rodents).

The Silowana complex faces a number of intertwined threats:
  • Illegal offtakes of wildlife and forest resources,
  • Habitat conversion and degradation,
  • Human-wildlife conflicts,
  • Insufficient incentives for communities to protect wildlife,
  • The increasing impacts of climate change and the increasing human population
The Complex forms a critical component of the Kwando River Wildlife Dispersal Area (WDA) of the Kavango Zambezi Trans frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
The WDAs offer critical ecological and wildlife movement linkages between Protected Areas across the KAZA TFCA landscape. The Complex has a range of features which make it a potentially attractive and viable tourism destination.
The Complex landscape is attractive and includes some major features.  These features include Zambezi river, the Ngonye Falls which is also the second largest waterfalls on the Zambezi.  These present a potential tourism on which a combined adventure such as self-drive market and wildlife experience could be built. It is poised to be an important catalyst for Western Zambia entry into tourism market.
1.         Conservation of Natural Resources and Food Security Through Strengthening and Consolidation of Sustainable Agriculture in The KAZA Area of Zambia: To increase their food security and Household income by at least 20% through the implementation of climate-adapted agro-ecological cultivation methods and at least one new source of income.
2.         Combating Wildlife Crime in The Silowana Complex of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area: To increase numbers and stabilize and contribute to range expansion of KAZA elephants.
3.         Strengthening Transboundary and Landscape Connectivity for Wildlife in The Silowana Complex of Zambia: To ensure viable wildlife populations move freely between protected areas through secure corridors that are managed and appreciated by Local communities. 
4.         Community Livelihoods Development and HWC Mitigation Project: To strengthen capacities of three Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), improve community resilience to climate variability shocks and to improve human wildlife co-existence in at least 10 Communities

© WWF Zambia

The Upper Zambezi River is located above Victoria Falls.  It is completely free-flowing and supports near-nature vast wetland systems, including the Kabompo River, Liuwa Plains and Barotse Floodplains. However, these have increasing pressure from unsustainable infrastructure development.
The WWF Upper Zambezi Landscape Programme (the Programme) aims to enhance management of ecosystems at a landscape level through responsible planning of water use and protection from unsustainable development. The Programme’s main focus areas are The Kabompo Landscape (forested headwaters of the main tributary into the Zambezi), The Barotse Landscape (vast wetlands below the Zambezi headwaters) and The Liuwa Plains (wetlands and savanna habitats bordering Angola).
Due to the landscape and its remoteness, there are a number of endemic species found here such as fish, birds as well as forest dwelling mammals. This is home to the second-largest population and migration of Blue Wildebeest in Africa.  The seasonal movements of Blue Wildebeest regulate the movement and habitat use of a seasonally flooded ecosystem.
The vast Barotse Floodplain are an example of a culturally evolved landscape based on the construction of homesteads, royal graves and canals for transportation which is all achieved through intelligent traditional management systems.

The main threats to the Upper Zambezi Landscape include:
  • High poverty levels and low educational levels, which are lower than the national average.
  • High dependence on the use of natural resources such as fish, wildlife and timber.  These are worsened by human/wildlife conflict and lack of incentives.
  • Bush meat poaching and trade in wildlife products and live wildlife traded locally and in neighboring Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • Illegal logging of high-value timber threatening the Miombo forests of the Kabompo catchment area.
  • Weak community stewardship and non-existent direct benefit transfers
Fisheries remains a key economic activity, supplying local households with a source of food and also providing income through sales to local markets as well as markets across the border in Angola and DRC.
In total, local use of wetland resources in the Barotse Floodplain has been estimated to have a net economic value of approximately $8.64 million ($12.5 million) per year.


●            Understand and Ensure the Role of Water as Key Driver of Ecological processes and Ecosystem Goods and Services
●          WWF Zambia brings evidence together to provide understanding of the role water plays in this landscape. We help communities understand on how water supply links with nature.
●          Securing Ecological Integrity Across the Landscape: To protect both underground and surface water using different water protection mechanisms.  Using the protected area network (NPs, GMAs and the proposed Barotse World Heritage Cultural Landscape inscription, the establishment of Fish Sanctuaries as well as Wildlife Corridors), contribute to management support and developing a long-term sustainability plan.
●          Citizen Monitoring of Environmental Compliance to Social Ecological and Governance Safeguards to ensure consistent, tactful engagement and partnership with local civil society organizations, other stakeholders such as local communities who are the ultimate beneficiaries.
●          Development & Support of Nature Based Economies: To show the economics of intact pristine environments and amplifying the need for Nature-Based Solutions with both large and small-scale economic actors. We stimulate interest in developing green economies and ensure that communities start receiving tangible benefits from nature.
●          Influence National and Landscape Development Planning and Financing: To participate in both landscape and national level developmental planning processes.  Building a multi-stakeholder mobilization approach for the development of a landscape investment plan and a sustainable mining agenda.  

© WWF Zambia

The Silowana complex is home to the 3rd largest national park in Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi National Park and largest Game Management Areas, the Lower West Zambezi Game GMA.  This makes it an area of major biodiversity significance in the country. The Landscape is approximately 19,300 square kilometers, roughly the size of Wales. It is located on the south-western Zambia border with Namibia and Angola between the Zambezi and Kwando rivers as well as the Southern Lueti river. It covers three administrative districts in Zambia namely Sesheke, Sioma and Shang’ombo Districts.

The area has an estimated population of over 70,000 whose livelihoods are nature dependent - primarily agriculture, livestock management.  Ethnographically, the area is predominantly influenced by the rich siLozi culture, which is amalgamated by diverse ethnic groupings.  These ethnic groups have a history of traditional natural resources governance systems, ethics and practices, that are still in use.

Despite its importance, the Silowana complex has faced a marked decline in its biodiversity assets through:
  • Extermination of wildlife populations in both protected areas due to illegal hunting and logging
  • Under-investment in conservation from the 1970s to the early 2000s
  • Frequent climatic extremes such droughts or floods that have negatively affected local livelihoods as well as food security, which is exacerbated by lack of employment
  • Over exploitation of natural resources
  • Human Wildlife Conflict
  • Community poverty and lack of inclusivity
Inspired by the WWF Zambia strategic plan, WWF and partners, in collaboration with local communities through their indigenous knowledge, are working towards addressing these challenges using a community-centered approach. 
WWF Zambia believes that the partnership approach delivers tangible benefits for communities and the environment. This is because it leverages partner capabilities to capacitate community participation in natural resource governance while building climate resilience through nature based livelihoods.

In preparation for the signing of the Kavango Zambezi Transboundary Frontier (KAZA) treaty in 2011, WWF Zambia started its collaboration with government, community groups and the private sector to reverse nature loss in 2009.  Post the signing of the treaty, partnerships have been initiated with KAZA secretariat, Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Forestry Department (FD), Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), German Agencies, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and several other organizations.   These have helped to deliver positive results for Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and community-led wildlife, forestry as well as conservation agriculture interventions.

From the year 2015, the Silowana complex conservation work, through WWF Zambia, has received €4,148,726 to from various German based funding agencies that include German Development Bank (KFW0, the federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and WWF-Germany. Below are some project highlights:
  • Climate-adapted agriculture, food security & income diversification 
  • Community scouts and livelihoods development support
  • COVID 19 emergency support
  • Community Livelihoods and Human Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation
  • Integrated land use planning
  • Increased market access and extension support
Additionally, German support has contributed to the WWF global goals of zero loss of natural habitats, zero extinction of species and Halve-footprint of consumption and production.  The consumption and production reduction is through agriculture (land clearance, food loss and waste) as well as habitat protection (wildlife and forest restoration) initiatives.  These have contributed to tangible impact on both the landscape and community.

From the partnerships that have been initiated, the Silowana Landscape has recorded improvements and clear wins as follows:
  1. Wildlife recovery: Through long term collaborative agreements that focus on improved landscape security/protection; investment in community relations and wildlife monitoring systems; improved habitat condition (Fire management and water supplementation) and restocking of targeted species, we have a thriving population of plains-game and increased sightings of large carnival such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs.  This sets a foundation for tourism products and greater investment for the future.
  2. Stronger community natural resource governance: the landscape has functional Community Resource Boards (CRBs) that employ over 50 local men, women, and youth.  Also, five Community Forest Management Groups (CFMG) protecting over 250,000 hectares of degraded forests have been established.  The CRBs and CMFGs practice community-led conservation agriculture extension, fire management, forest management and human-wildlife coexistence activities.
  3. Resilient and sustainable Households: Over 6000 households are actively involved in conservation enhancing initiatives such climate smart agriculture, seed grower schemes and market linkages to off-takers such as AfriSeed.
  4. A seed grower’s initiative has been established which is producing seed for climatically adapted crops in the project area.
  5. Marked wildlife corridors: out of the 29 of the identified wildlife corridors to be secured in the Silowana landscape, 15 have been marked and recognize by the local communities and community sensitization has commenced.  The marking is a major step to securing the corridors.
  6. Community Scouts and Women groups support: The employment of 40 community scouts and support to over 50% women in community leadership bolstered resource protection and women in leadership.
  7. COVID Impact Support: Secured five women-dominated poultry cooperative businesses supporting about 250 people during COVID 19, lessening their economic burden.
  8. Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation:  investments such as boreholes, elephant restraining lines, and predator-proof kraals help save human life, improved food security and foster human wildlife coexistence.
  9. Increased market access and extension support: Over 10,000 locals receive forest, wildlife and agriculture extension support.150 farmers linked to production companies such as AfriSeed, Zambian breweries and Namibia Nature Foundation.
Musenuho Kaumba's journey from traditional farming to self-sufficiency epitomizes the impact of the Zambia-German Cooperation in the Silowana Complex. Through their support, Musenuho has transformed her life from a typical subsistence farmer to one of more progressive seed growers in Silowana complex. She has become a source of inspiration for her community. Her journey showcases the importance of providing resources, training, and sustainable farming practices to uplift individuals and communities, ensuring a better future for all. The transformative power of collaboration and the dedication of the German government and all stakeholders involved have forever changed the lives of Musenuho and her community. Musenuho Kaumba: A Beacon of Hope for the Silowana Complex communities. Musenuho Kaumba's journey from a traditional farming background to a thriving, self-sufficient farmer exemplifies the transformative impact of the collaborative investments of the Zambia-German Cooperation in the Silowana Complex. Her remarkable transformation from producing meager harvests to being food secure has not only inspired her community but also highlighted the invaluable support of the German government and all stakeholders involved.
Born and raised in Mundando village, Sioma District, Musenuho initially struggled to meet her subsistence needs with conventional farming methods. With a yield of only 0.25 tonnes per hectare, her family constantly battled with food scarcity. However, she was determined to break free from the cycle of poverty and embrace a better future.
Musenuho's journey took a dramatic turn when she became a participant in the WWF Silowana Complex programs, which were made possible through the Zambia-German Cooperation. Through these programs, and her own indigenous knowledge, she gained access to knowledge, resources, and training that empowered her to adopt sustainable farming practices. With newfound techniques and support, Musenuho's yields increased significantly.
From a meager 0.25 tonnes per hectare, Musenuho now reaps an average of 3 tons per hectare, producing groundnuts, maize, and white sorghum. This remarkable increase in yield has not only made her family food secure but has also provided surplus for income generation. Musenuho's journey serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when communities are given the tools and resources for success.
Musenuho's journey has not only impacted her own life but has also inspired others in her community. Her resilience, dedication, and commitment to sustainable farming practices serve as a beacon of hope for those seeking a better future. Through her leadership, Musenuho has become an advocate for change, encouraging others to embrace innovative and sustainable agricultural techniques.
Musenuho's success story would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment of cooperating partners to improving the lives of individuals and communities in the Silowana Complex.  There is need to expand these interventions to allow more community members to benefit from this knowledge.

  • Need to have stronger sustainability investments to better secure impact from the start of the projects.
  • Need for deliberate synergies between German projects to enhance innovation and stronger joint impacts.
  • Strengthen adaptive management and capacity to respond to new opportunities and changing context quicker
  • Increasing Human wildlife conflicts, especially with elephants -Due to the arid nature of the Sioma Ngwezi National Park, elephants tend to move towards the Zambezi river which is settled creating conflicts with people 
  • Collaborative management arrangements between GRZ, PPF and WWF present opportunities for joint investments and efforts with stronger impacts and benefits.
  • With respect to community conservation and benefits, the program is working to secure fair and sustainable markets for the conservation farmers in the landscape to encourage them to continue.
  • Furthermore, there is an opportunity to explore value addition and agro-processing within the landscape to improve benefits.
  • Recovery of wildlife translates into opportunities for tourism development as part of KAZA