At African Wildlife Foundation, we believe it’s important to provide training at the community level. Training lets local leaders manage their own lands for conservation and economic development. It also helps individuals pursue sustainable business ventures to strengthen their own lives. And, it sets the course for future, ongoing conservation at the grassroots level.
With almost a billion people and the world’s highest population growth rate, there is a lot of pressure on Africa’s natural resources. Meanwhile, across Africa, climate change, droughts, increased demand for energy, and deforestation are creating additional challenges for communities.
These rapid changes mean that Africans must be able to adapt to new conditions in order to thrive. That’s why conservation and sustainability training is crucial.
AWF provides funding to recruit and train locals to become rangers and scouts in Osupuko and Kilitome conservancies as well as the West Kilimanjaro region. Scouts become the first line of defense against poaching when animals roam outside of national parks and onto unprotected land. In Benin and Burkina Faso, AWF provided equipment, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) units and cameras, and training to wildlife authorities in how to use the units to record wildlife sightings, herd sizes, and other data. Serving as an example to their communities, these scouts are seen as highly competitive positions that generate additional incomes for people.
The Mwandi community is located near the Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth largest. Overfishing and the use of mosquito nets have led to an alarming decline of fish stock, which impacts the 100,000 people living in the nearby communities. AWF is helping Mwandi protect the Zambezi River and creating economic benefits to this impoverished area by training the community on building and maintaining an aquaculture enterprise. The integrated Mwandi Fish Farm includes more than a dozen fish ponds as well as a poultry house that can hold 1,000 chickens, a duckery, and an incubator for birds.
As in many of our priority landscapes, we are working with small farmers from 21 villages near the Kolo Hills Forests in Central Tanzania to help sustain the forests. AWF provided more than 170 farmers with improved seed varieties and fertilizer as well as training them in conservation farming techniques that will not only help produce more food and income, but help them withstand changing weather patterns.
The Livestock for Livelihoods Program is helping local communities realize they will receive better returns from livestock raised in sustainable ways. In Tanzania for example, AWF is helping improve grazing, water management, and breeding with support from partners like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as providing local herders who use land sustainably with direct links to buyers, thereby raising their standard of living while keeping more open land available to Kenya’s wildlife.
In Africa, women are the backbone of most families and play a big role in the management of natural resources. So, it makes sense to train them in sustainable skills that will help them earn incomes to support their families. In Rwanda, AWF has supported the Women’s Handicraft Association near Volcanoes National Park, providing training in developing new products, such as basketweaving and embroidery.
And, because access to financial credit is a huge issue, AWF established the Nasaroni Village Bank, a women’s microcredit enterprise, in Kenya. This project established lending groups and provided training so women could get financial resources to start their own businesses. Membership has grown to more than 800 members.
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