Buhera Community Pushes for CAMPFIRE Status to Minimize Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Community members from Buhera who are part of Heal Zimbabwe Community Peace clubs have resolved to push for the Community to be awarded a Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) status to minimize human-wildlife conflicts. This came out during a dialogue meeting conducted in Buhera on 16 November 2021. Under the CAMPFIRE programme local communities earn income through sustainable use of the environment and wildlife.

The dialogue meeting was attended by representatives from Buhera Rural District Council (RDC), 15 Village Heads, 1 Game Park Operator, and 1 head of National Parks and 35 community members. The dialogue was a follow-up to the conflicts that were identified by the Peace Club during a Conflict Analysis and Resilience Assessment (CARA) meeting conducted in August 2021. The meeting noted that the major sources of conflict in the area were stray animals from Devuli Game Park, expansion of the Game Park into grazing areas and ownership squabbles within the Game Park. This made it difficult for communities to demand accountability and compensation for any damage being caused by wild animals o their crops and livestock.

Due to encroachment into grazing areas by the Game Park expansion drive, community members were letting their cattle graze in Devuli Irrigation Scheme. In response to this, Crop farmers in the scheme would then cut stray cattle with machetes and axes. This has in turn created serious conflicts within the community. Participants noted that one way of addressing these conflicts would be for the local community to be awarded a CAMPFIRE status so that community members derive value from sustainable use of the environment and wildlife.”If our local community was under CAMPFIRE, it can help minimize human-wildlife conflicts. Under CAMPFIRE committees are set up throughout our ward and raise awareness on the need to conserve the environment and wildlife while at the same time getting some benefits”, said one participant. The dialogue resolved that there was need for the community to continue pushing for CAMPFIRE status from the RDC.Participants also resolved that there was need for the RDC to engage the District Development Coordinator (DDC) and the local Legislator to speed up the process of awarding of a CAMPFIRE status to the community.

The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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