ZAMBIA has handed over the chairmanship of Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) to Zimbabwe with a call to that country to sustain achievements recorded over the last two years.
Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo urged member countries to keep the momentum of implementing KAZA TFCA programmes to promote regional integration.
KAZA TFCA is the world's largest conservation area, spanning five southern African countries namely Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, centred around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area.
Its goal is to sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources based on best conservation and tourism models.
The Zambian minister handed over the chairmanship to Zimbabwe permanent secretary in charge of Environment and Natural Resource Management Florence Nhekairo in Livingstone at Courtyard Hotel on Thursday evening.
Ms Masebo said during Zambia's tenure several achievements were recorded such as the finalisation and signing of the conservation area treaty while the ratification of the KAZA TFCA was currently underway.
"Under Zambia's tenure of chairmanship, progress was made in the recruitment of KAZA TFCA secretariat staff and we continued to mobilise resources from several development partners. Further, we initiated the process of registering KAZA TFCA as a legal entity and we also initiated the implementation of KAZA TFCA visa," she said.
Member countries during the tenure increased the rate of implementing KAZA TFCA projects at field level, including construction of infrastructure, procurement of more vehicles and initiated some community projects.
Ms Masebo thanked KAZA TFCA member countries for support over the last two years and wished Zimbabwe success in the next two years starting from January 1, 2013.
In accepting the chairmanship, Ms Nhekairo said Zimbabwe would not only live up to the challenge of coordinating KAZA TFCA programmes but also build on the momentum and consolidate the gains achieved so far.
"Zimbabwe undertakes to work with all five members of KAZA TFCA during and after our two year tenure. We accept the coordination role and we look forward to working with all members ," Ms Nhekairo said.
Ministers for environment, wildlife, natural resources, hotels and tourism in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe hailed Zambia for successfully coordinating KAZA TFCA programmes.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) deputy executive secretary for regional integration João Samuel Kaholo applauded Zambia for the successful coordination of programmes over the last two years.
Reading out a joint communiqué issued after the ministers meeting, KAZA TFCA executive director Victor Siamudaala said the Ministers warmly welcomed Zimbabwe and that they had confidence that the country would excel in its new role.
Dr Siamudaala said the Ministers agreed that an annual amount be considered as contributions towards the KAZA TFCA fund by partner countries.
The Ministers agreed that the next KAZA TFCA meeting would be held in June next year in Angola.