iSIMANGALISO GEF-7 CONDUCTED SCOOPING EXERCISE
31 October 2023
iSimangaliso Wetland Park Global Environment Facility 7 (GEF-7) team took an initiative to do a scoping exercise to all proposed projects sites where the GEF-7 will implement its projects. These projects will benefit communities living in and adjacent to the Park in various ways, including developing Biodiversity economy, creating business and job opportunities, and developing communities. During this visit, Communities (SMME’s, Trust leadership and Traditional leadership) were given an opportunity to share their project or business ideas that can be implemented as part of iSimangaliso community development within and adjacent to the Park.
The recently established iSimangaliso GEF-7 team was also introduced to stakeholders and communities by the iSimangaliso Socio-Economic, Environment and Development department. The GEF-7 team visited kwaDapha to meet with the community and view the state of homestays that will be rehabilitated by iSimangaliso through the GEF-7. The team also visited Madlangula Boating Concessions with a purpose of viewing the state of boats that are owned by the community and how they operate. These beneficiaries were trained and received their boating permits through the SMME’s programme of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The GEF-7 project will also assist them by building boat harbour where they will receive their passengers.
The team then visited Kosi Mouth to view the identified possible project site to build an eco-friendly high end accommodation facility. The GEF-7 team also visited uMkhuze Game Reserve to view the abattoir owned by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The purpose of this visit was to get an idea of how iSimangaliso can implement the Community owned and operated abattoir through the GEF-7 project), The GEF-7 team also visited Mabasa Traditional leadership with the purpose of introducing the GEF-7 team and also discuss in detail the implementation of the Mabasa Community Conservation Area.
The traditional leadership lead by iNkosi Nxumalo took the GEF-7 team to the suggested Community Conservation Area (CCA). Lastly, the team visited Makhasa to view the Community owned Conservation Area and also give the community leadership a chance to engage with the GEF team to express what they need to be assisted with. Amongst all of these projects, GEF-7 will also assist Small businesses within these communities.
The scooping exercise was a huge success. It gave the GEF-7 team an idea of the type of communities that they will be working with and how GEF-7 can develop these communities through biodiversity economy while benefiting communities by creating employment and creating sustainable businesses. It culminated into the appointment of Social Facilitators through the database of service providers of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. To date, engagements with various stakeholders has commenced, this includes project beneficiaries, traditional councils, Municipalities etc. The iSimangaliso GEF-7 will be visiting these communities too as they are in the process of starting the implementation processes.
After the Scooping exercise, the GEF-7 hosted a meeting with stakeholders and small business owners from in and around iSimangaliso Wetland Park aiming to assist them with completing project proposals for the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). This comes after the GEF SGP opened an opportunity for small projects that need funding of not more that R500 000 to start or develop their businesses to place their applications. iSimangaliso through the GEF-7 took an initiative of inviting all those who would like to apply and assist them with filling forms and attaching required documents.
iSimangaliso GEF-7 invited representatives of the SGP who would assist these communities by thoroughly explaining some questions to stakeholders that they do not understand. Communities living in and adjacent to iSimangaliso welcomed this opportunity and came out in numbers to listen and fill forms accordingly. This meeting comes after the SGP team visited iSimangaliso to present the call for proposals and visited some small community owned businesses that would like to be funded by SGP.
For this meeting, iSimangaliso GEF-7 extended the invitation to it sister Departments that assist communities with similar development such as local municipalities neighbouring that the Park (uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality, Jozini Local Municipality, Big 5 Local Municipality, Mtubatuba Local Municipality and uMhlosinga Development Agency).