Learning our Lessons : A Review of Alternative Livelihood Projects in Central Africa

Learning our Lessons
A Review of Alternative Livelihood Projects in Central Africa
By S. Wicander and L. Coad
118 P.


The bushmeat trade across West and Central Africa has been estimated to be worth as much as USD 200 million a year. However, when hunting becomes commercialized or intensified, wildlife populations suffer, and dramatic population declines and local extirpations occur in heavily hunted areas. One of the most widely discussed approaches to increasing the sustainability of hunting is the provision of alternative protein and income-generating sources (or ‘alternative livelihoods’) to communities that are otherwise dependent on bushmeat for food and/or income. However, do these approaches to conservation achieve their goals?

Such projects have been implemented at least since the early 1990s; however, despite significant expenditure, expected to exceed USD 6 million over the next five years in Central Africa alone, the evidence of project impacts has not been reviewed: in short, we do not know how effective they are.

The study ‘Learning our Lessons: A Review of Alternative Livelihood Projects in Central Africa’ evaluated the effectiveness of alternative livelihoods projects in Central Africa. Its findings, released in a report by IUCN and the University of Oxford indicate that although many projects were co-designed with communities and implemented by national or local managers:
•    Many projects are based on untested assumptions
•    Projects are not funded at high enough levels or for long enough time periods to have impact.
•    Some projects fail community needs and expectations
•    Some alternative activities were inappropriate for local markets

Suggestions include having a more robust and realistic project development effort, longer timelines, and better community engagement.

More information is available on the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

For more information, kindly contact :
Kenneth Angu Angu, [email protected]
Gretchen Walters, [email protected]

Work area: 
West and Central Africa
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