Ethiopia’s highlands are among the most densely populated agricultural areas in Africa. Agriculture is the major source of livelihood for communities living here, but shifting cultivation, overgrazing and agricultural expansion are putting serious strain on the surrounding ecosystem.
Given the mountains’ beautiful topography and unique wildlife, community-based sustainable tourism provides an excellent opportunity for alternative income generation, reducing the need for environmentally destructive practices and incentivizing conservation efforts.
Working closely with Village Ways Partnership Ltd., AWF is helping communities seize the opportunity for income generation by enhancing the experience and accommodations provided by existing local guesthouses. Additionally, a network of community-owned and- operated facilities is being established along trekking routes that are currently under utilized, helping to reduce the overcrowding of other routes during peak tourism season.
Navigating Simien Mountains National Park can be tricky for newcomers, particularly when they’re relying on park signage. Existing signs don’t follow a uniform design, and many have been rendered illegible by weather-induced wear and tear. To address this issue, AWF is working with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority to provide 24 new, uniformly designed and weather-resistant signs.
Many of the national park’s newer guides were unable to undergo essential guide training, detracting from the overall tourism experience and the potential revenue that comes with it. AWF facilitated training for 70 park guides, focusing on leadership, conservation, customer experience, field knowledge, park background and basic first aid. These guides are now much better equipped for leading uniformly successful, informational treks and, most importantly, conservation-friendly tours.
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