The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) signed a co-financing and advisory agreement with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) late last month. The deal is towards the implementation of a project inside the Simien Mountains National Park entitled “Conservation & Sustainable Use of Biodiversity”.
The project aims at revising the Park’s management plan, enhancing facilities and increasing the engagement capacity of private organisation’s. It also has a 12-month completion period.
In line with the project, the AWF constructed a school close to the park for 12 million Br, which has been in operation since feburwary 2017.
A sustainable resettlement program for the 418 households relocated from the Park to Debarq, around 20Km away, three years ago for 157 million Br, will also be targets of the project.
Having begun in 2014, the project’s four million euros cost is almost entirely funded by the German development bank, KFW Bank, after an agreement signed eight months ago. A national steering committee under the Authority has also been established to facilitate the project and make reports.
“KFW bank has no confidence in the implementation capacity of the Authority; that’s why we came here as partners,” says Zeleke Tigabe, project manager of the Foundation that is based in neighbouring Kenya.
The Foundation, which was established in 1961 as African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, Inc., focuses on Africa’s unique conservation needs. It identifies and helps conserve vast landscapes.
Director General of the Authority, Kumera Wakjira, however, notes that his authority is performing to the best of its ability. He is still not confident enough to say that the Park can be sustained in its current state unless better management comes to the fore.
“Keeping the biodiversity in the area safe, and restoring them to their full capacity are the chief targets,” said Kumera.
This is one of three projects that the Authority has taken on with the KFW. Another is a four million euro agreement with the Frankfurt Zoological Society for the management of the Bale National Park within the coming three months.
The third one has not been as successful. The Authority’s attempt to undertake a project worth three million euro in Afar’s Hallaydeghe-Assebot ceased after disagreements with the regional state.
The Simien Mountains are known for indigenous animals such as the Qey Qebero (Red Fox) and Walia Ibex. In July 2017, the World Heritage Committee removed the park from the endangered world’s heritage list claiming there were improvements made.
Increased population in the area and cattle overgrazing have been cited as challenges for the sustainable preservation of the park over the year.