NAIROBI. – While conservation and tourism sectors were hard hit by the Covid-19 epidemic across the globe, collaboration and resilience enabled the sectors in Kenya and Namibia to survive the pandemic.
According to a new research by the Nature Based Tourism Platform, despite the fact that Kenya and Namibia have different political economies, approaches and trajectories, they provide significant lessons on how to establish and sustain effective community-based conservation and natural resource management.
When the pandemic hit, both countries successfully mobilized emergency relief funding to keep community conservancies intact by designing recovery strategies for constellations of conservancies and nature-based tourism businesses.
In Kenya, the government’s stimulus program helped greatly. It provided US$9,1 million in support of 160 community conservancies and another US$9,1 million to pay the salaries of 5 500 newly recruited community scouts under the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Moreover, the government offered US$18,2 million in soft loans to tourism operators to carry out renovation of their facilities and restructuring of their businesses.
It also reduced the value added tax from 16 percent to 14 percent and adjusted other policies to help ensure businesses can return to normal after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have receded.
In Namibia, over $2.4 million was dispersed, supporting over 3,600 people and 129 entities within the country’s tourism and conservation sectors.
“The Covid-19 facility in Namibia was able to quickly transfer money to all conservancies because of the existing structure – the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia,” Richard Diggle, World Wide Fund for Nature coordinator for Namibia, said.
“This programme was established in 2017 and its mandate is to develop long-term sustainable finance.”
The report said the two countries have established strong alliances between government, non-governmental organisations and private sector players and created enabling environments to support community conservation and natural resource management efforts.
“Kenya and Namibia have vibrant communities of practice among communities, conservation NGOs, private operators, and the government, all of whom have heavily invested in conservation and the tourism sectors over many years,” Nikhil Advani, project lead for the African Nature Based Tourism Platform, said. – ChinaDaily.com