Focusing on the results of AFD-funded activities, the evaluation concluded that the project objectives were relevant to the local and regional context, national policies and the needs identified in the Limpopo National Park (LNP) development plan. The conservation approach developed by LNP places equal importance on the ecological conservation and economic development objectives in an “inclusive” approach that promotes community participation in park management. It is also an “open” approach, without fencing and a preferred option for natural repopulation by wildlife from the neighbouring Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa.
An unclear intervention strategy
To achieve the conservation and development objectives simultaneously, the intervention logic was based on implementing a community-based tourism offer. Its goal was to create jobs, encourage opportunities for entrepreneurial activities and generate higher revenue for local communities while also making a sustainable contribution to biodiversity conservation.
However, the work to reconstitute the project’s intervention logic revealed many implicit underlying assumptions. For instance, tourism development is contingent on the availability of land for use. The unrealistic nature of some preliminary assumptions was also clearly brought to light: for example, the initial proposal to have tourism-generated revenue cover LNP’s operating costs within two years.
Likewise, the interdependence of development and conservation activities was barely made explicit and therefore little anticipated in the project intervention logic: protecting ecosystem integrity depends, for example, on the success of protection and community development programmes. As a result, a delay in just one part of the project (population displacement activities funded by KfW) had an impact on the other activities, particularly on development activities.
The ecological integrity of Limpopo National Park has been preserved and wildlife populations have increased and now circulate freely after part of the fence between Kruger National Park and Limpopo National Park was removed, even though the wildlife is concentrated along the border with KNP in South Africa and the northern part of LNP.
The annual number of tourists visiting Limpopo National Park is still limited compared to initial forecasts because it is still difficult to observe wildlife and the park infrastructure is not adequate enough to retain tourists, despite the accommodation and access roads created. As a result, tourism generates modest revenues that only partially cover the park's operating costs and 16% of this is transferred to the communities.
The evaluators concluded their work by highlighting the organisational and institutional reinforcement of Limpopo National Park following the decision to position the Mozambican authorities as the contracting authority for the AFD project. Finally, this written and filmed evaluation was an opportunity to present the results to the LNP teams, the Mozambique government and the communities living in the park.