FAO Regional Office for Africa

Mainstreaming sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in Zimbabwe

Women farming in a dryland landscape @FAO

2 December 2021, Harare - The process of land degradation negatively affects 3.2 billion people globally out of which 2 billion are located across dryland regions. Promoting and investing in healthy and vibrant drylands worldwide is therefore key to build back better and to promote a resilient world that fosters food security, biodiversity, addresses climate change, achieves land degradation neutrality, and leaves no one behind. Degradation of forest and land resources have been identified as major impediments to sustainable development in Zimbabwe. The way people use and exploit natural resources largely contribute to their degradation, and this is mainly due to activities such as over-cultivation, overgrazing, cutting and clearing of forests to pave way to expand agriculture and other activities.

To avert this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI), Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and other national partners launched a new Global Environment Facility (GEF-7) project to promote sustainable forest and land management in dryland landscapes in the South Eastern low-veld of Zimbabwe. This initiative will support a cross-sector approach which will result in mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde Catchments of Zimbabwe. The Honourable Minister Nqobizitha Ndhlovu (MP) officially launched the project today.

“As part of my Ministry’s contribution to attainment of agenda 2030, an accelerated land restoration programme will be implemented to enhance economic resilience, food security, biodiversity replenishment and increasing land cover thus mitigating against climate change and creating green jobs,” said Hon Minister Ndhlovu in his remarks officially launching the project. “My Ministry takes this opportunity to thank the United Nations family and in particular FAO for their continued collaboration in resource mobilization to environmental management in the country under the Multilateral Environmental Agreements framework,” he added.

The project which is funded by GEF to the tune of USD 10.4 million will be implemented from December 2021 – 2026. The project in Zimbabwe is part of a larger, programmatic and integrated GEF-7 Impact Programme for Dryland Sustainable Landscapes covering 11 countries of which seven are in Southern Africa. The countries will be supported by a Global Coordination Project and a regional exchange mechanism both led by FAO. Implementation of the project is led by EMA together with other governmental, NGO and private sector partners. The project interventions will be implemented in three provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands.

“The project is anchored in the new FAO Strategic Framework, which focuses on the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life. The project is also aligned to national priorities and will contribute to the attainment of targets outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 and contribute towards attainment of SDGs as well,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative to Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Lesotho.

In the face of climate change, unsustainable land management and growing population pressures, there is a need to draw heightened attention of drylands forests (such as in the Save and Runde catchment areas), so as to prevent, avoid and reverse degradation trends, in alignment with the SDG target 15.3 which calls on countries to become Land Degradation Neutral by 2030.