Gorongosa Project names Dr. Marisa Rodrigues Director of Sustainable Development.  

The Gorongosa Restoration Project has named Dr. Marisa Rodrigues as Director of Sustainable Development. Dr. Rodrigues earned a PhD in Animal Breeding and Genetics from São Paulo State University, Brazil.

Prior to her promotion, she served as a member of the Gorongosa Sustainable Development team, serving as Apiculture Project Manager.

She is also the leader of the Project’s ”Gender Mainstreaming Initiatives”.

Under the apiculture program, Dr. Rodrigues and 17 Gorongosa technicians provide technical assistance to 350 beekeepers throughout the Park’s Sustainable Development Zone. Beekeepers receive training through three separate modules: Introduction to Sustainable Beekeeping, Apiculture as a Business, and Honey Harvesting and Quality Control. 

Trained beekeepers then replicate the training within their communities. The project purchases locally sourced beehives and locally made bee suits. 

116 of the beekeepers and eight of the technicians are women. 

The project buys raw honey in combs from community beekeepers at a fair price, which is then processed, bottled, labelled at the Park’s honey house in Vila Gorongosa, and sold in domestic markets. 

With Irish Aid support, a new honey factory will be built that meets high-end requirements for food safety and honey processing. 

As Head of Gender Mainstreaming, Marisa is leading a Gender Policy Implementation Plan with the following commitments:

  • Gender equality and equity in the composition and management of human resources and organizational functioning;
  • Inclusive participation in decision-making at institutional level and in communities;
  • Capacities and competences in support of gender equality internally and externally;
  • Programs and ventures with gender equality and equity;
  • Combating abuse, harassment and gender-based violence; and
  • Organizational culture in favor of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Gorongosa Sustainable Development department catalyzes economic benefits for the communities that live near Gorongosa Park through the sustainable use of natural resources — including eco-tourism, forestry, and agricultural products.  The Department creates access to the market value chain for farm families and has two core missions: (1) Create inclusive value chains and (2) Support livelihoods that restore and protect biodiversity.

All activities are community driven, by: (1) integrating local leaders in the planning process and day-to-day operations; (2) hiring key members of the community with an affinity for conservation and consensus building; and (3) coordinating with community organizations and local governments to deliver critical services in natural resources management, education and health. 

Over the next 30 years, through collaboration with Government and private sector partners, the Gorongosa Restoration Project hopes every family in the Gorongosa Sustainable Development Zone will lift itself out of poverty.  This will mean more productive farms; more non-farm employment in service industries, factories and construction; and more investment and planning in clean, green cities.  The Project aims to be the economic engine that will drive this positive change. 

Marisa Rodrigues will work closely with Elisa Langa, Gorongosa Project Director of Human Development, on joint initiatives such as Peace Clubs, Priority Families and Sustainable Cities. 

Peace Clubs facilitate dialogue with former combatants and host communities in a “safe environment”. The clubs share messages about citizenship, social inclusion, and respect for diversity through adult literacy exercises. The activities are facilitated by a “peace promoter”– a person who is trained on reconciliation and conflict resolution. The Peace Club program encourages members to envision a better and viable future in civilian life through access to new opportunities for income generation and self-employment.

The Gorongosa Priority Families Initiative addresses fundamental challenges facing the communities in central Sofala Province– poverty, poor education and health services, lack of infrastructure, cyclone destruction, child marriage and post-conflict reintegration. This initiative focuses on the communities surrounding the Gorongosa National Park.

Priority Families aims to reach the most vulnerable and the change agents across the landscape with employment opportunities and other benefits. These target beneficiaries are:

– Small-holder farm families;
– Eco-tourism employees;
– Sustainable forestry employees
– Agricultural extension workers;
– Teachers and school directors;
– Primary and secondary students, with focus on girls;
– Community members, in particular women, pregnant women and elders;
– Traditional leaders;
– School council members;
– Local artisans;
– Community workers, such as education promoters, health promoters, traditional birth attendant (TBA), model moms (MM);
– Former combatants for reintegration;
– Cyclone affected families.

Mozambique is the 10th most vulnerable country in the world to disaster according to the 2014 World Risk Report. Central Mozambique and Sofala Province in particular have endured several shocks in the last five years including civil unrest and drought in 2015 and 2016. In 2019, Cyclone Idai directly affected food security and income generation for families living in the Province. Cyclone Eloise and Tropical Storm Chalane followed in late 2020 and early 2021, posing additional challenges to local governments and communities.

The Departments of Sustainable and Human Development will also collaborate to transform Vila Gorongosa into a Model Village via agreements signed between Vila Gorongosa, UN-Habitat, and the Gorongosa Project. Meetings between local community members, the Municipality of Gorongosa, the Gorongosa Project and UN-Habitat are defining a Sustainable Development Framework for the project.

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