Women of Amboseli were treated to a rare occasion when the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined them to launch an innovative wildlife conservation project. The project supported by UNDP and implemented by Wildlife Direct will economically empower women and educate them on the wildlife conservation with an aim of turning human and wildlife conflict into an economic activity.
The First Lady is the Patron of ‘Hands off our elephants’ campaign launched in 2013 by conservationists to help save the elephants from extinction. The campaign has made great strides in raising public awareness and mobilizing support for the protection of elephants.
The First Lady emphasized the role of women in conservation and urged key stakeholders to ensure women are placed at the center of conservation efforts. She called for eradication of cultural practices that limit women from accessing social and economic opportunities.
She said stakeholders identified communities co-habiting with the treasured wild animals to pilot the project as they are their first line of defense. “Women are known to play an important role when it comes to conservation issues world over. This is why we are investing in women projects in this region because we can count on you to protect our elephants,” she said.
She further stated that the Government is aware that the absence of rural women in the economy held back development and the ability for Kenya to achieve its aspirations to be a wealthy nation.
Speaking at the launch, The UN Resident Coordinator, Nardos Bekele-Thomas called on stakeholders to promote sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation as a means of eradicating poverty. “The new global platform for development recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is a global challenge that we must all work hard to achieve. Sustainable tourism is one such way through which we can eradicate poverty. We must continue to endeavor to support local communities to protect and conserve their environment especially in respect to rich wildlife ecosystems. To do this we must encourage innovative approaches to eco-tourism and cultural tourism. We must also facilitate the interaction for tourists and local communities that own and run small and medium enterprises.”
The Sustainable Development Goals underscore that well-designed and managed tourism is one way through which people can make a significant contribution to sustainable development. Tourism has close linkages to other sectors and can create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities.
UNDP partnered with local four women organizations to help them increase their livelihood opportunities and grow their wealth which in turn reduce human and wildlife conflicts.
The Empowering of Women to Conserve Wildlife in Amboseli project is a result of a partnership between UNDP and the Office of the First Lady initiated by UNDP Executive-Director, Ms. Helen Clark in June 2014 as a means of finding solutions for local communities to promote wildlife conservation.
It seeks to identify and nurture alternative sources of income that will improve the general wellbeing and wealth of local communities residing within the Amboseli ecosystem. Under the pilot project, Amboseli National Park is being used as a showcase of excellent conservation partnerships between host communities, government, scientists, NGO’s and international partners.