Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change and Tourism

Current Mood: Anticipatory

Current Song: Saviour by Lights

When I was little, my family went on a safari to Mikumi National Park. The safari was basically in the form of a game view, where you drove a car through the floodplains and rather large savannah areas and tried to look for animals. We have pictures too. Most of them are of brownish savannah grasses and single trees, behind which, apparently is an animal. I still have yet to figure some of them out. This was back before the day of automatic zoom lenses and fancy shmancy cameras like I tout these days.

Many many years later I came across tourism again when I did my Master of Arts thesis on pro-poor tourism (which is, the tourism that shows net benefits for the poor). I specifically concentrated on nomadic tribes of Masaai in Tanzania as well as indigenous groups in South Africa. My question basically asked what the private sector can do to promote pro-poor ecotourism is these areas, what works, and what doesn't.

In doing the myriad research that I had to do for this monster paper (oh, the sleepless nights), I read a lot about the impact of climate change of Sub-Saharan Africa, since this is going to be a major issue to contend with in the health of the ecosystem in the future.

Most people in the world are going to have to learn to adapt to the effects of climate change. This will include small agriculture, grazing cattle (which is the livelihood for the Masaai) as well as policy surrounding National Park Maintenance in these areas. We have already seen the impact that climate change has had on South East Asia with the major typhoons such as Ondoy as of late. Sub Saharan Africa faces a different problem with the quick drying up of land, a receding of the major lakes, and the extension of desert land.

So what can we do? Such an intervention needs to be multifaceted with the collaboration of local people, governments, the private sector and international organzations to raise awareness of adaptation technologies. Furthermore, least developed countries need these technologies to stop the further degradation of land, and subsequently to stop the further cycle into poverty as a result. Climate change consequences not only threaten to rob the area of precious natural resources, but a significant amount of revenue (nobody is going to come and see animals if there aren't any).

I would hate that my children (or nieces and nephews) never have a chance to experience what I did, albeit, to six year old eyes, it's a bunch of weird trees.

There is lots of research you can read regarding the impact of climate change on ecotourism in Sub-saharan Africa and there are lots of ways you can support education and conservation efforts. Links below!

International Institute for Environment and Development

The Kesho Trust

The Masaai Wilderness Conservation Trust

The Overseas Development Institute's Pro-poor Tourism Programme

Now you know what I did holed up in the library for all those months :) Enjoy and Happy Blog Action Day!