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Annual Report 2013

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s primary mandate is the conservation and preservation of the World Heritage values for which it was inscribed. It is clear that the success of this mandate is reliant in large part to the fulfilment of iSimangaliso’s secondary mandate –the provision of economic benefits for local people living around the Park.

iSimangaliso has focused inter alia on tourism development to achieve this. To open up the area to tourism investment’s multiple downstream benefits, iSimangaliso in its earlier guise as the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative built the new Hluhluwe-to-Mozambique border road, upgraded the N2, opened new border posts and implemented a successful malaria programme that has reduced the prevalence of malaria in the South African section of the region by over 96%. Since 2000, the iSimangaliso Authority has consolidated 16 separate parcels of land into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, invested some R200 million in infrastructure including roads, water reticulation, fencing, day visitor facilities and overnight accommodation. All alien timber plantations on both the Western and Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia have been felled, and a wide variety of game missing from the area for a century has been reintroduced. Vast areas are cleared annually of invasive alien plants.

As a result, tourists and visitors have come in increasing numbers. The number of tourism establishments in the iSimangaliso region has grown by 86% since 2000; the private sector has responded to the opportunities made possible by the many millions spent on conservation in iSimangaliso every year.

Tourism directly and indirectly offers the most accessible economic opportunities to people who live on the edge of or within the Park. But important as it is, tourism alone cannot provide jobs or livelihoods for more than a few of the 600 000 people living in the iSimangaliso area. That’s why capacity building, training and education are central to iSimangaliso’s mandate to “empower and transform” the tourism and conservation sectors. In the last ten years iSimangaliso has provided training in tourism skills, hospitality skills, tour guiding and cookery to 126 local youth, many of whom are now employed or running their own small businesses. Some of these new entrepreneurs are mentored in iSimangaliso’s Enterprise Programme that supports local economic development in the area.

The Enterprise Programme which was set up in 2010 now supports a total of 182 entrepreneurs. The participants who are not directly involved in tourism are making clothes and bricks. They are growing vegetables and farming livestock. They run community catering businesses and spaza and hairdressing shops.

Thembi M, one of iSimangaliso’s entrepreneurs, supplements her occasional work as a tour guide by catering for community events (she pays her helpers) and running a small chicken business. Her various businesses are sustainable and important to Thembi and her community. Thembi’s husband works in Durban, and would love her to join him there. She refuses to consider it. “I’d never make money there like I can here.” This is success.

Mrs B E E Molewa, MP
Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
27 July 2013

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