Gorongosa National Park, lying at the southern edge of the rift valley in Mozambique, enjoys abundant seasonal rainfall, a wide diversity of habitants and fertile ground, which allows for large concentrations of wildlife. It’s wildlife population suffered huge losses during Mozambique's 16 year civil conflict, which resulted in a 99% decline in some large mammal species’ population.
The Gorongosa Project arose as a 20-year agreement between the Carr Foundation and the Government of Mozambique to bring Gorongosa National Park to pre-conflict exuberance. The improved protection coupled with the strategic re-introduction of about several animal species have resulted in dramatic increases in animal numbers in the Parks core areas.
But Gorongosa has never simply been only a wilderness area; humans have lived in and around the park for centuries; farming, fishing, raising family, and they are an integral part of the Park ecosystem, part of it’s history and it’s future. Currently, there are almost 200,000 people living in traditional communities around the Park. The people living around the park are eager for the support the Park is providing.
Gorongosa Project has long recognized the importance of partnership – With the Mozambican Government, with the International Community, and with the people in and around the Park, and has been involved in socioeconomic development since the beginning. Recently, we have expanded our Human Development programs, with new Girls Clubs, high school programs, primary school support and bursaries for local children to pursue secondary education.
We believe that National Parks can serve as engines of human development; promoting international investment and creating jobs in operations, science, and tourism. Development is critical to the success of biodiversity conservation.
At Gorongosa National Park, we recognize these synergies between development and conservation, but first and foremost we acknowledge human development as a critical and urgent mission in its own right.
The Human Development program recognizes its unique charge within the Gorongosa landscape. As a leader in economic and social development in the region, the Gorongosa Project is committed to empowering local communities and improving quality of life. As a department of Gorongosa National Park, Human Development is committed to promoting livelihoods that are compatible with biodiversity conservation in this vulnerable ecosystem. Our interventions seek to ensure the long-term health and resilience of people and the environments on which they rely.
Goals: Our outreach initiatives focus on the following critical areas -
The World Health Organization states “the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being” and here in Gorongosa, we work to provide access to care to the underserved community that lives around the park in the following ways:
- Provide access to healthcare through Mobile Clinics
- Provide access to family planning options and women’s health services for all women, including the training of Traditional Birth Attendants and Model Moms
- Empower community health workers to provide education on Hygiene, Nutrition, and First Aid
- Reduce prevalence of HIV/AIDS
One of the stated goals of the United Nations is to “ensure inclusive and quality learning for all” and our education programs in Gorongosa range from pre-school school to post-graduate level. Some of our aims are to
- Ensure access to primary and secondary education for all children in the buffer zone, especially girls
- Provide environmental and conservation education for students and teachers
- Increase knowledge and capacity for environmental decision-making
- Support adult literacy, and adult career development
Community Based Natural Resource Management is based on the idea that the land should be managed by the people that live and work on it. Local leaders, traditional and political, engage with Gorongosa Project, and collaborate on ways to manage the lands, the forests and the rivers that surround the park and the people in some of the following ways;
- Improve environmental governance and empower local communities in decision-making
- Engage with local and regional governments, including traditional leadership, to identify challenges and opportunities for conservation and resource management
- Ensure sustainable use of natural resources, including firewood, fish, and non-timber forest products
- Manage fires and clearing for agriculture
- Engage women and youth in participatory process to promote equity in decision-making
Change won’t be overnight. The Gorongosa Project has been working on human rights, conservation and development here for over ten years. With the recent re-signing of the Long Term Agreement, we anticipate being here for decades more. Our successes give us hope, our challenges and failures strengthen our resolve. Our vision; a living, life sustaining ecosystem – bringing health and security to the people and the animals who live here.