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The Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA‐N) has handed over 10 completed tourism projects to communal conservancies in the Zambezi Region today. These projects to the combined value of N$ 17 million are related to eco‐tourism endeavours in the area and benefit the communities of 9 conservancies (Kwandu, Mashi, Mayuni, Baljerwa, Kasika, Wuparo, Sikunga, Impalila, Salambala).
The colourful hand‐over ceremony took place at one of the project sites, the Namushasha Cultural Centre near Kongola at Mashi Conservancy, and was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), local politicians, traditional authorities and close to 100 conservancy members.
Senior Traditional Councillor Jonathan Limbo, who spoke on behalf of the conservancies, thanked MCA‐N for these investments to empower local communities. Zambezi Governor Lawrence Sampofu highlighted the importance for the regional tourism industry to benefit people and wildlife alike, while MET Director of Regional Services and Park Management, Colgar Sikopo focussed on lessons learned in conservancy management and sustainability.
MCA‐N CEO Penny Akwenye stressed the impact of the support programme on the Namibian economy: “Investment by the private sector in eco‐tourism has increased from N$ 3 million to N$ 100 million since 2010, and where we expected to create over 100 jobs, we have now reached the number of 400 employees.” MCA‐N supports projects in 31 of Namibia’s 79 communal conservancies.
The Zambezi projects consist of three lodges that are joint ventures between conservancy members and private investors, a Cultural Centre, the upgrade of several craft centres, a community bakery, boats and equipment for a fishery project, and various activities to mitigate human‐wildlife conflict such as the erection of fences to protect residents from crocodiles. Moreover, MCA‐N translocated over 1,000 wild animals from larger game parks to the communal conservancies, including giraffes and eland, to make them more attractive to visitors looking for tourist attractions off the beaten track.
MCA‐N is implementing development projects in the country’s education, agriculture and tourism sectors funded by the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to the combined value of US$ 304.5 million (N$ 3 billion) with the aim of reducing poverty through economic growth. Approximately 23% of the budget (N$ 690 million) is being invested in boosting Namibia’s tourism sector.