People living on the edges of national parks and other protected areas in Kenya and Nepal face daily threats from wildlife
Crops may be trampled by elephants, livestock attacked by carnivores and people themselves injured or killed. Many of the people who live in these areas have very limited options for income generation, so livelihoods are heavily reliant on natural ecosystems.
Without enough money to meet their basic needs throughout the year, some people are pushed to the limit to feed their families. This often means risking their lives to gather firewood, fodder and graze their livestock. This can also lead to over exploitation of natural resources, resulting in habitat degradation and fragmentation. This has disastrous consequences for both the local people and endangered wildlife.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors to our For People, For Wildlife appeal in 2019, we set up a project in 2020 to support four communtieis in Kenya and Nepal to co-exist with wildlife by building financial resilience, improving livelihood opportunities anf forging better relationships with wildlife authorities. By reducing the costs of living with wildlife, we are also reducing the need to engage in wildlife crime and supporting the protection of vital ecosystems.
This 3-year project has four key activities
- Establishing community banks or village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) to increase financial and social capital.
- Supporting community members to adopt new livelihoods, decreasing their reliance on natural resources, improving their material style of life and food security, and incentivising participation in conservation.
- Improving human-wildlife coexistence (HWCx) through reduced costs from living with wildlife.
- Improving community-protected area relations through increased engagement and collaboration between conservation staff and communities.
Our results so far have been more than encouraging
By the end of our second year, community members in Kenya reported a 63% decrease, and community members in Nepal a 90% decrease, in the illegal use of natural resources. This significant result in both countries is in part due to the project’s community outreach activities, which have helped to raise awareness of the rules and regulations surrounding wildlife crime. And, because the project is supporting community members to build their financial capital through local banking systems and newly established livelihoods, they are less reliant on natural resources to meet their daily needs.
We have also seen continual increases in wellbeing scores for project participants
In Kenya, being part of a VSLA has not only motivated over 220 community members to begin saving money, but has also enabled members to build their capacity, confidence and knowledge to establish enterprises and begin to generate income. Similarly in Nepal, improved access to financial services through the community banks established through the project have enabled the poorest members of the community to take out low interest loans, increasing their ability to uplift their health, education and other aspects of their lives.
In both countries, 80% of banking members are women, with activities also leading to improved social cohesion and a sense of unity. This has been particularly impactful in Nepal, where members of different castes are working together for the first time, and where women are now taking up the position of chairperson, treasurer and secretary of their bank.
To ensure that enterprises established as part of the project remain resilient to human-wildlife conflict, conflict mitigation plans were co-developed with community members. In Kenya, this includes predator-proof kraals and apiaries to protect chickens, goats and bees, which have proven extremely successful. In Nepal, mitigation activities include snake-proof corals for chickens, planting alternative crops that wild animals don’t eat and scarecrows.
A key success of this project so far has been the facilitation of multiple outreach meetings per year between community members, protected area staff, and other project stakeholders. These meetings include drop-in sessions to air grievances and discuss solutions, as well as exposure visits such as community bus tours into national parks. These interactions have enabled community members to have their voices heard and have been instrumental in significantly improving attitudes towards conservation and reducing illegal entry to protected areas among project participants.
As the project enters its final stages before completion in October 2023, the focus will be on ensuring that community members feel that they have the knowledge and confidence to continue to both operate the community banks and VSLAs and build their human-wildlife conflict resilient enterprises into the future.
Discover how sustainable livelihoods are already making a difference in Nepal
'Since I started tailoring, my parents-in-law no longer have to go into the forest for firewood. And, with their schooling, I hope that my kids will have bright futures. Now I can support my family and train others to tailor. I feel very proud of myself.'
Gayatri - tailor
'As a people we are closely linked to the forest - something we have retained from long ago in our ancient past.'
Krishna - guesthouse owner
'When I’m in the forest I feel like I’m in heaven. The birds are singing. The flowers are aromatic. I really feel good. Now I plant trees in the forest – and together, as a community, we can protect it. We don’t have to sell its resources anymore.'
Rita - beautician
'It is very important to save the forest. When there is a forest, we have greenery, fresh air, and rain. And if there is a forest, there will be wildlife, which we can pass on to our future generations.'
Durga - dairy farmer
- Tsavo Trust
- Five Talents
- Wildlife Works
- Kenya Wildlife Service
- Himalayan Nature
- Mithila Wildlife Trust
- Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal
This project was made possible by donors to our 'For People, For Wildlife' appeal in 2019, which raised over £1.5 million, including £702, 074 of matched funding from the UK government.