Community-based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) is considered a productive avenue to generate direct economic benefits for local communities in the Buffer Zone. The Gorongosa team has been engaged with various communities for some time to discuss options for natural resource-based businesses.
Sustainable forestry management, community-based ecotourism and game meat production are opportunities currently being investigated in detail.
Agro- forestry linkages between conservation and agriculture are also being considered. In certain areas, the formal demarcation of a form of ‘community conservancy’ is also being explored in association with the Mozambican Protected Areas Authority, ANAC.
The understanding and establishment of equitable governance structures for such CBNRM entities are critical, and need to be linked to existing natural resources committees on a Regulado level and a further decentralisation to a Sapanda or Fumo level (both traditional sub-structures down to a village level) is envisaged. The Gorongosa Project is now able to engage with the 16 existing Natural Resources Committees in the Buffer Zone to start initial steps of raising awareness about democratic governance and creating relevant structures to establish CBNRM initiatives.
During 2016, 20 community members from Nhambita, Nhanguo and Mucombezi attended training on small business management at the CEC. After the training, these new Community Animators received grocery products with which to start their micro entrepreneur businesses. In March, a review meeting was held with the beneficiaries of this ongoing entrepreneur project: of the 47 entrepreneurs, 38 still remained in business. It was decided to reduce the maintenance effort to see how many would remain in business without support.
Early in 2017, the programme focused its attention on harvesting and purchasing honey from 40 beekeepers, and the Gorongosa Project held its inaugural Honey Harvest. The honey was harvested from 30 hives in the small Miombo forest at the Community Education Centre. By the end of March, the programme had purchased over 400 kg of honey from members of local communities.
The majority of vegetables consumed in the CEC cafeteria (which serves on average 160 meals per day) and the Chitengo cafeteria, are now sourced from local farmers in Vinho and Nhambita.