Lilongwe, Department of National Parks Wildlife (DNPW) has been accused of failing to remit funds to Nyika-Vwasa Association in Rumphi totaling K 11 million for the past five years.
The funds are meant to help eradicate wildlife poaching in areas around Nyika National Park.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Wednesday in Lilongwe, an Executive Member of the Association, Pius Mfune said the total amount has come about to unpaid in arrears.
With this huge financial deficit, it has become difficult for the association to operate effectively. For instance, we are unable to compensate some former poachers who surrendered their guns to the association, so that they refrain from the illegal acts and find other means of earning a living, he disclosed.
Mfune said that the Association has 104 Natural Resources Committees (NRCs) in 30 zones whose members help in raising awareness to surrounding communities about the dangers of wildlife poaching.
We thus plead with DNPW to consider raising the 25 per cent share that we get from the scheme as is it not enough to cater for all our operations. This is includes the sensitization campaigns which the NRCs conducts in communities, he added.
DNPW Director, Brighton Kumchedwa said he is aware of the matter and that the department is already solving it.
He added that, It is incorrect to say that they have not been receiving their share for the past five years. The issue is that in some instances, the money gets redirected in handling other commitments such as cases of human-wildlife conflicts which are usually emergencies.
Kumchedwa observed that the issue was discussed with the Board of Trustees where DNPW pleaded for a write up of the accumulated arrears which summed up to K 6 million.
We have been paying the arrears since then but it seems there is lack of communication within the association as it is clear that some members are not aware of this information, he said.
Kumchedwa added that while he agrees that the 25 per cent share that the Association receives is not enough, it is important to note that the scheme’s context in which it is run is solely based on park collections that depend on tourism revenue collection.
What is needed is to work hard in curbing poaching in which case, the communities have their part to play. They have to ensure that there is plenty of wildlife that would attract tourism and eventually boost their revenue. Of course, Nyika’s tourism activities are compromised by a very poor road but once this problem is fixed, it will be a total different ball game, he pointed out.
The Wildlife Policy of 2000, revised in 2018, promotes stakeholder participation in the management of wildlife through a fund order under a subsidiary law of 2013; communities are entitled to a 25 per cent share of the revenue generated at a protected area level.
The Policy states that communities have to be mobilized into associations such as Nyika-Vwasa in order to access the money.
The revenue sharing scheme is under DNPW and is being implemented in Lengwe and Malawi National Parks and it is yet to be implemented in Kasungu National Park where preparations are at an advanced stage.
Source: MANA Online