Mlawula Community Outreach Programme
The Community Outreach Programme (COP) was established in 1993 in order to reduce problems emanating from neighbouring communities relating to resource use. The three main objectives of the COP are as follows:
1. To improve relations between the nature reserve and adjacent communities.
2. To assist local communities in protecting the natural resources both within and around the nature reserve.
3. To assist local communities in improving their quality of life through income generating, education and other social projects.
The COP has targeted the adjacent communities of Shewula and Mhlumeni to initiate the programme. Both communities are located on the Lubombo plateau and share similar characteristics. Shewula is comprised of 250 homesteads (approximately 2000 people). Common economic activities include the cultivation of maize, sorghum, cotton, ground nuts and beans and livestock keeping. The lack of water sources from existing springs and boreholes is a serious problem for the area. Mhlumeni is comprised of 84 homesteads (approximately 700 people). The community is quite marginal as unemployment is high. Cultivation of maize and livestock keeping are the chief economic activities. The lack of water sources is serious in this area. The community is not accessible by public transport, and the nearest centre is 23 km away in the town of Siteki. Other amenities in the community include a primary school (up to standard 3), a veterinarian office and several churches. Mhlumeni is also receiving assistance from another NGO, World Vision.
Since its inception, the COP has assisted the communities to obtain donor funding for a number of projects that have been initiated by various groups in both Shewula and Mhlumeni. In Shewula this includes educational projects such as the completion of classroom block for both Shewula Primary and Shewula High School, income generating projects, such as the purchase of a maize grinder for Shewula Women's Group, and conservation projects such as establishing permaculture and beekeeping demonstration sites at the high school. For Mhlumeni, the projects include the construction of a pre-school and workshop, the drilling of a borehole, and establishing a permaculture garden.
At Mlawula Nature Reserve, the COP has been involved in introducing beekeeping in the communities for the following reasons:
1. To generate income from the sale of honey and products made from beeswax.
2. To teach community members the importance of conserving plant and trees species necessary for the production of honey and the health of the beehive.
A beekeeping demonstration has been created at Mlawula and is located near the gatehouse. All beekeeping equipment was donated.
Permaculture is an alternative form of agriculture that is being introduced into the communities. This sustainable method will benefit community members by teaching them how to improve existing soil conditions, harvest water and conserve resources. A permaculture demonstration site is located adjacent to the Environmental Education Centre. It was designed and developed during a one week workshop held in April, 1994. Funding for the workshop was provided by U.S. Peace Corps.
Park Management Environmental Education Community Outreach Research
Resources Nature Reserves Tourism
Biodiversity Objectives/Legislation Programmes Miscellaneous