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Eni and Zambian REDD+ project: two new classrooms in the Luembe Chiefdom

A new milestone for education in the Chikwasha and Mbilisao communities.

03 March 2020
6 min read
03 March 2020
6 min read

The agreement with BioCarbon Partners and the Importance of Carbon Credits
Last November, Eni signed an agreement with BioCarbon Partners (BCP), a leading African company working in long-term forest conservation projects, to enter as an active member in the governance of the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), the largest REDD + project in the world by number of beneficiaries, and the largest in Africa by hectarage (944,000 ha).  The collaboration started with Government and involves 12 Chiefdom communities and 173,000 beneficiaries. The LCFP project also obtained the CCBA's (The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance) highest "Triple gold" rating, for its exceptional impact on communities, the climate and for biodiversity. Taking a long term view, Eni has committed itself for 20 years to purchase carbon credits certified according to the Verified Carbon Standards and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards.

Carbon credits conversion: new incentive for local infrastructure
Thanks to the sale of carbon credits as part of the REDD + Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), two classrooms and a home for teachers have been renovated in the jurisdiction of Luembe, all using part of the "conservation fees". The infrastructure was officially inaugurated in December 2019 by the Chair of the Nyimba District Council, His Royal Highness Senior Chief Luembe and the Secretary of the District Education Board. The construction of the structure will facilitate access to education for about 380 families; an approximate total of 2,300 people. These two projects are particularly significant as the affected localities of Chikwasha and Mbilisao are found on the Lukusashi river and there are no roads connecting the two sides of the administrative region. This is why investments in development initiatives are limited in this part of the region.  As an example of collaboration between public, private and community entities, the Ministry of Education began by assigning a qualified teacher to the areas on a permanent basis. In the next three years, the sale of carbon credits represents real and significant opportunities for local communities to scale up impacts in development and reducing deforestation.

 

BioCarbon Partners and creating community values
Since 2014, BioCarbon Partners invested in infrastructure in the Chiefdom of Luembe, with the aim of creating value for communities through forest protection activities. Over 180,000 dollars have been invested in teacher housing, classrooms, boats and a hammer mill.  Eight (or 80%) of Luembe's ten action groups have benefited from these infrastructures. The "conservation fees" from the past 3 years have been an opportunity for communities to develop carbon credit management skills, before receiving higher amounts through the partnership with Eni. For 2020 alone, the amount of guaranteed "conservation fees" of 38 million Kwacha (equal to 2.5 million dollars) to be divided into 12 jurisdictions have been obtained by the subscription, on behalf of Eni, for the acquisition of carbon credits generated by the project.

 

The REDD+ project and its benefits
As reported by Senior Chief Luembe: “It is important to share the benefits of the REDD + project with all the villages, protecting our forests and our communities. The improvement of educational infrastructures represents a great opportunity for growth as regards to our communities ". Also for this reason, in recent years Eni has made forest conservation projects one of the pillars of its decarbonisation strategy. William Soko, DNPW Area Warden, stated: "The support that BCP gives to the communities through conservation fees from selected protected areas, has helped generate extra revenues that can be used today for projects that benefit the community, for the construction of schools and the recruitment of community scouts. The areas that BCP is helping to protect are also the habitat of many wild animals. "

The investments in infrastructures chosen by the communities are part of what BCP defines as an approach based on the "quality of life".  As explained by the CEO, Hassan Sachedina: “Investments in infrastructure are part of a broader strategy aimed at enhancing access to clean water, health and education. In addition to investments in agriculture and non-agricultural income generating activities such as honey production. If today they lost access to clean water, food security or health, the life of the communities would collapse. This demonstrates the importance of these investments and how they bring total changes. It is an ambitious goal, but BCP aims to substantially improve income levels and the quality of life of the families of these communities within five years from the confirmation of a project according to the VCS standard ".

Mundia Akende, BCP Site Operations Manager in Nyimba, added: “Recent educational projects have made many people in the communities of Mbilisao and Chikwasha happy since the community began receiving conservation fees. The teacher house that has been renovated was built in 1983 by the government but it was never competed. Now, thanks to forest protection activities, the community has generated funds that will allow the children of Mbilisao and Chikwasha to study in a more suitable and welcoming environment ".

 

The story of the Luangwa Community Forests Project
In 2013,  BCP began the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) within the Zambian ecosystems of the lower Zambezi and the Luangwa valley. The project was conceived to support the government's REDD + strategy by setting up the largest programme there has ever been in Zambia. Today we support joint forest management in approximately 944,000 hectares as well as deforestation mitigation activities for a further one million hectares from which 13,000 families benefit , in a total area of approximately 20,000 square kilometres. The LCFP (with an expected duration of 30 years) is the largest REDD + initiative in the African continent protecting nearly one million hectares of forest. Overall, around 173,000 people benefit from the project's activities. The initiative aims to bring both environmental and social transformation benefits in an area of global importance for biodiversity. Without the LCFP and the so-called "climate finance", the economic prospects of this area would really be limited.