Defining the Future of Community Engagement in Conservation

African People & Wildlife
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Attendees at The Future of Community Engagement in Conservation workshop.
Estella Snowden/African People & Wildlife

In November, the National Geographic Society and African People & Wildlife (APW) brought together 16 participants from six countries in Arusha, Tanzania for a workshop on The Future of Community Engagement in Conservation. The gathering was the first of its kind and a critical step toward the creation of a pan-African network of community engagement practitioners.

"The workshop was inspiring. I appreciated the examples given by participants of deep community engagement in their efforts,” said Claudia Suca, Human Development Director at Gorongosa National Park. “We can get this right!"

Each attending organization shared a five-minute presentation on their work, including how they have engaged communities, challenges faced, success stories, and best practices gleaned from their experiences. APW hosted the workshop, which consisted of exercises, interactive sessions, plenary discussions, and talks led by facilitator Alais Morindat, a consultant for the International Institute for Environment and Development.

“The workshop was designed to really discover the “how” of community engagement practice and not just discuss theories,” said Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, co-founder and chief executive officer of APW. “Through a collaborative process of shared learning, APW’s goal is to grow our own expertise while serving as a catalyst for improved community engagement practice across Africa.”

Workshop participants came from Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa, and Namibia and included nonprofit organizations as well as national park and government authorities.

"We were very pleased to welcome representatives from the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA),” said Charles Trout, co-founder and chief program officer of APW. “The participation of national parks and wildlife management authorities is a critical part of successful community engagement.

”While the workshop lasted just two days, the collaborations and relationships formed will keep developing. With continued support from National Geographic, APW plans to host future convenings and facilitate an expanding network of community engagement practitioners across Africa. The knowledge shared at the workshop will be incorporated into a comprehensive, open source framework document that will be released in early 2019. The framework will include lessons learned, best practices, and actions required for successful community engagement strategies.

Please stay tuned for further announcements about this exciting publication and growing collaboration. Contact for more information.

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