17/06/2024

Unlock Your Career Potential

Where Passion Meets Profession

Helping Africans Help Themselves with Volunteer Projects

Helping Africans Help Themselves with Volunteer Projects

Often, you’ll find that conversations regarding gap year projects in Africa tend to gravitate toward work with animals, as if little else exists. But another important aspect of the conservation work that is being conducted throughout the African continent concerns the locals-in fact, empowering them with economic and educational self-sufficiency is winning half the battle for long-term stability and sustainable growth.

Providing the People with Economic Incentives

If you want to save endangered animals in the African continent, you don’t just tell people to stop slaughtering or poaching animals-you have to give them an alternative means of sustenance. Because [as you realise the more you work with animals and sink your arm in the affairs of wildlife conservation], most African natives have no other choice but to close their eyes or look the other way. Caught on the horns of a blood-soaked dilemma-enduring constant or cyclical civil wars on one hand and disease and poverty on the other-the locals resort to the nearest thing available to them: the wildlife. Without any other means of sustenance, the African locals are hardly to blame. In the case of the ivory trade, for example, most poachers would not have engaged in such grisly business if they had another choice in terms of decent livelihood. That’s why part of the conservation effort is to make sure the locals are gainfully employed in the long term through various financial and commercial means.

Forging Profitable Partnerships

Certain international organisations that normally engage in work with animals also make it a point to flex their commercial muscle. For example, some institutions form agricultural partnerships with business entities to ensure that local produce will always have a ready destination. A partnership with a chain retailer of organic products in the UK, for instance, boosts the profitability and economic viability of local producers of honey (of which there are several in Africa). Many local small-scale farmers who grow coffee have also partnered with the Starbucks Coffee Company (through the work of an international volunteer organisation) to ensure the long-term viability of their farms.

Complementing Local Livelihood Activities

Left to their own devices, Africans’ way of growing livestock can further drive wildlife to extinction. But as no one can simply tell the locals to sacrifice their livestock for the sake of wildlife, international volunteer organisations that normally deal with work with animals also actively intervene in the livestock management of Africans. Such intervention does not disrupt the local traditions but instead complements existing livelihood activities, with the end goal of not only giving pastoralists with link to markets but also better and more scientific range management (which in turn will avoid unnecessarily threatening the habitat of endangered species). Moreover, such intervention can also be much more direct: in the Maasai Steppe, for example, there is a modern mechanised slaughterhouse that not only provides an efficient processing of livestock but also ensures that the meat is of high quality. And that’s only one of the many important aspects of positive economic and commercial intervention by the international community in the lives of local Africans.