Protecting transboundary natural resources (completed)

Project description

Title: Transboundary use and protection of natural resources in the SADC region 
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Southern African Development Community (SADC): Angola, Botswana, the Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Lead executing agency: SADC Secretariat
Overall term: 2015 to 2021

SDAC. Biodiversity in Chobe National Park, Botswana in the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA. © GIZ


The member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are rich in natural resources. More than half the gross domestic product (GDP) of the 16 states comes from agriculture, forestry, mining and tourism. Progressive deforestation, inappropriate land use systems and poaching – combined with illegal trade in wild animals – are having a detrimental effect on the quality of the natural ecosystems. Their biodiversity and unique wildlife populations are declining. To take one example, the number of African elephants has declined by almost 20 per cent over the last ten years due to illegal poaching. However, wildlife populations form the basis for nature tourism, an important sector in southern Africa. 

The SADC member states have therefore formulated a series of regional strategies to protect ecosystems more effectively. The SADC’s regional development plan refers to the sustainable use of natural resources as a central concern in the region. The SADC protocol for the improved protection of wild animals highlights the significance of transboundary protection for the conservation of shared wildlife populations. 

German development cooperation is supporting the SADC member states in establishing ‘transfrontier conservation areas’ (TFCAs) and improving the management of these areas. TFCAs extend across the borders of two or more states. They contain various land use systems such as settlements, protected areas for wild animals and plants, agriculture and livestock farming.

There are currently 18 TFCAs in the SADC region covering a total area of more than a million square kilometres, which is bigger than France and Spain put together. TFCAs make up more than 50 per cent of the area under protection in southern Africa. They are at different stages of development.


Local, national and regional stakeholders are increasingly implementing the SADC protocols and strategies for the sustainable management of natural resources in transfrontier conservation areas.

SDAC. Community consultation meeting in the Kasungu district, Zambia (Malawi-Zambia TFCA) in preparation for the GIZ support project. © GIZ


The project is supporting the SADC’s Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate as well as other regional and national stakeholders in their efforts to improve implementation of regional SADC guidelines. Key guidelines for the project include the SADC TFCA programme, the SADC tourism programme and the SADC anti-poaching strategy. Regional guidelines are being formulated to facilitate implementation. A consortium consisting of Agriculture and Finance Consultants GmbH (AFC) and the GOPA Consulting Group has been implementing activities to promote tourism since the beginning of 2019. 

The project is helping to coordinate and monitor implementation in the areas of the SADC’s TFCA and tourism programmes and is promoting implementation of the regional anti-poaching strategy. It is supporting the Secretariat on regional processes for negotiating common SADC positions for multilateral environmental agreements such as the Biodiversity Convention, the Climate Convention and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

Moreover, the project is assisting TFCA structures and line ministries in integrating regional strategies and guidelines to improve the general conditions for TFCAs into national standards and laws. 

A further area is the creation and development of a network of regional TFCA stakeholders who communicate via an internet platform and various working groups, discussion groups and WhatsApp groups. 

At local level, the project is working in three selected TFCAs. In these areas, it is improving the management of natural resources, promoting communication between communities and authorities across borders, and encouraging communities to get involved in the decision-making bodies for the TFCAs. In the local communities, tourism products and other alternative sources of income are under development. 



  • Five sets of regional guidelines have been developed relating to the issues of law enforcement and anti-poaching, TFCA development, tourism, and monitoring and evaluation. These guidelines have been officially adopted by the member states. 
  • The SADC Secretariat has become better equipped to perform a coordinating role between member states and donors with regards to criminal prosecution and activities to combat poaching.
  • In the SADC TFCA Network, more than 300 members from government authorities, the private sector, research, donors and non-governmental organisations communicate extensively using an internet knowledge management system and in working groups. The network is a platform for coordination and communication between TFCA practitioners, decision-makers, SADC structures and international partners.
  • Fifteen projects on tourism development, combating poaching, climate change adaptation, community participation and fire management have been implemented in three TFCAs: /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (South Africa and Namibia), Lubombo TFCA (Mozambique, South Africa and Eswatini) and Malawi-Zambia TFCA (Malawi and Zambia).

Additional information