It is my pleasure to be with you here today. I thank National Parks Director General Vitalis Chadenga, Parks Regional Manager Tawanda Gotosa, Park Ranger and Self-help Recipient Project Manager Marvelous Mbikiyana and the community for inviting me here today.
I ma pleased to be with you today for the opening of your irrigation, energy and market garden project. It has been said, â€œA gift is never about need. It is about thanking people.â€ As we give the gift of clean water,
fresh healthy food and a method of income production, we support the work done by the ranger community. We thank them for their commitment to their jobs and to preserving Zimbabweâ€™s natural resources.
As you know, Mana Pools is one of Zimbabweâ€™s- and indeed one of the worldâ€™s- greatest natural treasures. Mana Pools National Park, along with Sapi and Chewore, total approximately 6,766 kilometers of wild
beauty and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to thousands of elephants as well as hippopotamus, lions, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, wild dogs and a panoply of plains game, including kudu,
eland and sable antelope. It is a significant natural landmark and a true tourist mecca.
That is why I am so pleased to be here today to provide the Mana Pools National Park ranger community a submersible river pump, solar panels and fencing to provide safe access to water for the rangers and
their families. This gift from the American people, through the U.S. Ambassadorâ€™s Special Self-Help Programme, will help allow the rangers stationed here to maintain this natural treasure.
In addition, the market garden that is part of this grant will allow rangers and their families to grow healthy, nutritious food. It will also provide a source of fresh locally grown produce for purchase by safari
operators for their clients, thereby generating income for the ranger community. By using solar energy to power the equipment, this project will contribute to a greener and safer Zimbabwe.
What the Ambassadorâ€™s Self-Help Program provides here today is exactly what it was intended to offer to Zimbabwe â€“ a hand up, not a hand out. Created in 1980, the program was designed to improve basic
economic or social conditions at the grassroots level in local communities or villages. It also supports high impact, quick implementation activities that benefit the local ranger community at large. This project will
not only benefit the local ranger community, it will benefit the thousands of Zimbabwean and international tourists who love nature and enjoy an opportunity to see, feel and experience it in its natural glory.
The Self-Help Program identifies and funds projects in all ten provinces throughout Zimbabwe including Harare and Bulawayo. Examples of currently funded projects include a market garden in the Save Valley;
equipment and materials for a brick molding business in Harare; and a teacherâ€™s house and a borehole for a school in Chinamora.
I am pleased to announce the American peopleâ€™s gift of a borehole and a market garden to the Mkanga ranger community and their families. Mkanga, a lower Zambezi community much like Mana but located 170
km east of where we stand today, will begin to work on its project in a matter of days.
I commend the rangers inn both communities as they persevere with limited resources. Zimbabweâ€™s abundant natural wonders position tourism to be a major driver of economic recovery and prosperity.
To realize that potential, however, the nation requires skilled, trained rangers who spend long hours and risk personal harm to secure and protect the countryâ€™s wildlife with limited compensation. Their jobs are
often made more difficult by separation form their families. That is why it is so gratifying to give this grant for equipment that will contribute to the prosperity and health of rangersâ€™ families who, in turn, play such a
critical role in protecting the health and prosperity of the animals that attract so many from around the world to spend their tourist dollars in Zimbabwe.
Finally I would like to thank the Tashinga initiative, especially Lynne Taylor and Jangez Gangat for their tireless efforts in bringing these communities to our attention. I am very impressed by the leadership shown
by these individuals and the participation of the ranger community in ensuring the projectâ€™s positive environmental impact and success.
I am proud to count the Mana Pools irrigation and market garden project as yet another example of Americaâ€™s commitment to a strong, sustainable and prosperous