THE EUROPEAN UNION AFRICAN IVORY ROUTE PROJECT

This campaign is part of a three-year (2014-2017) project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by CESVI, and Italian Ngo and aimed at “enhancing environmental sustainability, resilience to climate change and improved livelihoods for vulnerable communities in Limpopo Province through sustainable ecotourism development”. Like many other rural communities in South Africa, the African Ivory Route communities in Limpopo – the country’s poorest province – have limited access to livelihood opportunities. Traditional activities such as dry-land crop and livestock production are directly dependent on, and extremely vulnerable to, annual fluctuations in rainfall and longer-term climatic changes — and in many cases result in significant impacts to the environment, to the extent that they are not sustainable. The result is that communities are trapped in conditions of extreme poverty.

Many of these communities, extremely poor but living in nature-rich areas, in their effort to sustain livelihoods contribute to the degradation of the environment and the decimation of wildlife. This poses a significant challenge to the long-term sustainability of ecosystems and protected areas.

Ecotourism has the potential to offer complementary and more sustainable livelihood opportunities — to assist the transition by rural communities from livelihoods based on direct use of natural resources to those based on employment. Sustainable ecotourism in healthy ecosystems provides livelihood opportunities for rural communities while promoting sustainable development.

Ecotourism development in the framework of this ecotourism project has been pursued and achieved through a multi-stakeholder partnership enabling different actors to operate synergistically. This includes the public sector  to provide an appropriate enabling environment (e.g. policies, strategic planning, framework infrastructure); communities to proactively participate in local environmental protection, thus providing suitable conditions for attracting and hosting visitors; and a private operator to ensure efficient delivery of management and marketing services.

The project is implemented through a set of interlinked actions: improvement of standards of accommodation for guests; improved services for staff; introduction of renewable energies to assure environmental sustainability of the services offered; increasing the environmental standards with introduction of waste management and recycling; introduction of environmental management and environmental certification (Green Line Certification); training of AIR staff; promotion and marketing of the tourism products that the AIR has to offer; social and environmental promotion by linking the AIR camps with the surrounding communities and institutions; and support for the improvement of the institutional partnership set up at the founding of the AIR, particularly looking at the community cooperatives — owners of the camps.

To date, the EU AIR project has yielded seven new safari tents and new staff accommodation at Mtomeni Camp, and renovated tourist accommodation by introducing en suite bathrooms and showers in 15 guest units, including the renovation of communal ablutions in three other camps — Baleni, Fundudzi and Modjadji.

Waste management and recycling stations were introduced in all of the eight AIR camps. Renewable energy and eco-installations have been deployed across the camps, including: 2 borehole solar pumps; 24 solar geysers (with a total of 2,640 litres of water heated with the sun); 8 water filtering systems; 1 water harvester; water pressure meters to control use of water and reduce waste; 65 solar panels with a total capacity of 5,850 watts; 66 batteries for a total capacity of 5,185 Ah; 198 LED lights; 10 solar telephone recharging stations; 8 solar fridges.

These renovations have collectively ‘greened’ the AIR product, aimed at drawing more local and international visitors alike, and have contributed to the overall sustainability of the ecotourism economy involving the AIR communities.

CESVI

Cesvi, established in 1985, is a secular, independent association, working for global solidarity.

In the values guiding Cesvi, the moral principle of human solidarity and the ideal of social justice are transformed into humanitarian aid and development, reinforcing an affirmation of universal human rights.

Cesvi believes strongly that helping the underprivileged in developing countries, or those in difficulty due to war, natural calamities and environmental disasters, does not help only those who suffer, but contributes also to the well-being of all of us on the planet, our “common home” that needs to be looked after for the sake of future generations.

In the acronym Cesvi, the words cooperazione e sviluppo (Cooperation and Development) underline the fact that Cesvi bases its philosophy on the idea of giving the recipients of aid a leading role, working together for their own natural benefit. It is for this reason that Cesvi is strongly committed to making sure that international aid does not become mere charity, and nor is it influenced by the donors’ self-interest.

WE DON’T EXIST TO SURVIVE, WE EXIST TO CHANGE

Cesvi mission to people in need around the world can be divided into three main categories:

– Immediate help to ensure survival and to overcome emergencies; 

– The rehabilitation and reconstruction of systems destroyed by war or natural calamities;

– Cooperation programs and projects for the development of underprivileged social groups and poor communities.

The European Union

The European Union is made up of 28 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, expanding over 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.