iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area Management Opportunities: HUB Launch in Mabibi and kwaDapha

15 Oct 2021

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On 23 May 2019 iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area (MPA) was proclaimed as one of the 22 new MPAs through the South African Government Initiative known as ‘Operation Phakisa’ to actively address the CBD Archie Target 11 on MPA expansion. Of these MPAs, the iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area is the largest in the country, increased from 82 500 ha to 1 072 965 ha, implying huge responsibility for the Park.

The main purpose of the iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area is to contribute to a national, regional, and globally-representative system of marine protected areas: to protect inshore ecosystems inclusive of turtle nesting beaches and subtropical coral reefs; and to protect offshore benthic and pelagic ecosystems, including turtle foraging areas, submarine canyons (coelacanth habitat), cold water corals and sponge grounds. It also facilitates fisheries management by protecting spawning stock, allowing stock recovery, and enhancing stock abundance in adjacent areas. Above all, it supports sustainable nature-based tourism opportunities which regulate a scenic area, support cultural and spiritual assets, and enhance a functionally connected coastal-marine system to retain a land-ocean ‘sense of place’.

iSimangaliso has partnered with WILDOCEANS and Ezemvelo KZNW to implement the Oceans Alive Project in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The aim of this project is to increase protection and strengthen management of marine biodiversity at iSimangaliso, while improving the livelihoods of communities living adjacent to, and inside the Park and working towards sustainable fisheries.

iSimangaliso, WILDOCEANS and Ezemvelo KZNW held an opening event of the HUBs – one built in Mabibi and the other at kwaDapha. The HUBs are intended to be a valuable resource centre for the community, providing support for key initiatives such as: building ocean awareness; training; micro-enterprise development; employment opportunities for youth; support for community involvement in conservation activities and tourism opportunities; facilitating access to amenities (e.g. library, play area for children, cell-phone charging stations, printers, computers, and internet access); promoting craft production and sales; and demonstrating projects linked to nature-based solutions and climate-smart agriculture. To manage the HUBs, 9 people have been employed as permanent staff. During the construction phase of this project, 74 individuals benefited from training, employment (stipend) and business start-up resources. The 74 youth beneficiaries were given accredited training in artisan skills from plumbing, bricklaying, paving, fencing to carpentry. The beneficiaries are from 9 different local communities in Manguzi (eMalangeni, Novunya, eNkovukeni, kwaMvutsane, kwaMpukane, kwaMqobela, kwaZibi, Mabibi and KwaDapha). The supported were mostly youth and women. Speaking at the opening event iSimangaliso CEO, Mr Sibusiso Bukhosini, said, “it is exciting to be here today, especially looking at the history of conservation in South Africa generally. What we see here today is a legacy where communities from different areas, Ezemvelo, iSimangaliso, NGO’s and private partners are gathered under one roof in celebration of biodiversity conservation in response to the alleviation of social ills such as poverty, unemployment and inequality, by providing jobs and trainings.

Nozi Mbongwa, WILDOCEANS Project Manager, shared, “Out of the 74 beneficiaries, 12 beneficiaries who showed dedication, enthusiasm and were outstanding on the training programme were offered permanent job opportunities. They were also awarded tool kits that will allow them to start their own businesses in their respective fields of study and an opportunity to be incubated on the business programme”.

In 2020 the world experienced the outbreak of the Covid 19 virus. This deadly virus devastated communities and threatened many livelihoods across the world. During this time iSimangaliso and WILDOCEANS responded to the call made by the Government for the support of destitute communities to minimise the impact of this deadly virus. A few initiatives were initiated by iSimangaliso and WILDOCEANS including the distribution of food parcels to needy communities across the park. WILDOCEANS donated 20 sewing machines for destitute communities to manufacture face masks and other protective clothing. A total of 56 beneficiaries were trained in sewing and 20 sewing machines were donated, some applied as co-ops some applied individually. Nosipho Ngcobo-Mfekayi- iSimangaliso Project Co-ordinator elaborated “In order to kickstart their businesses an order of 12 000 masks was placed for beneficiaries to manufacture. The manufactured masks will be distributed across the communities and schools during schools’ environmental awareness visits”.

Delivering his remarks, Induna Shange from kwaDapha said, “they never thought there will be a road to the beach at kwaDapha, but today because of Mr Bukhosini there is a road. And today they witnessed the launch of a HUB , and they never dreamed they will have such a facility for their kids. They can see that all that is happening is the fulfilment of the promises Mr Bukhosini made for the betterment of their kids,” Both Councillor Mr. J. Mthethwa, on behalf of Districts, and Ward Councillor, Mr L. Tembe, from kwaDapha, shared same sentiments. They were both grateful and said they can see their youth benefitting through conservation, and many youth are now employed. They also pleaded with the community to protect these HUBs because they are their resources and not allow people from other areas to come destroy their pride and joy.

WILDOCEANS CEO, Dr R. Kloppers, emphasised the importance of oceans and said that no-one understands this better than coastal communities. This is the reason they are launching these HUBs for the improvement of the livelihoods of the coastal communities through conservation.

Youth Employment Service (YES programme)
President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (YES programme) to prepare the young people for the work environment. The initiative aims to see more than one million young South Africans being offered paid work experience over the next three years. This YES initiative by WILDOCEANS is benefiting 14 communities from Emalangeni, Hlomula, KwaDapha, Kwamazambane, KwaZibi, Mabibi, Mahlungulu, Manzengwenya, Mpukane, Mqobela, Mvutshana, Nkovukeni and Novunya. 131 youths are placed within iSimangaliso, in order to benefit from work-based training and stipends, participating in different roles as Turtle Monitors and Beach Stewards.

For more information on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, visit our website at isimangaliso.com. Media enquiries should be directed to Bheki Manzini at bhekimanzini@isimangaliso.com.

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