Action travel-driven conservation

By | Thursday, 28th January, 2021

Ethiopia has suffered more than most this last year. Covid’s put a flourishing tourist industry on the seat of its pants and the trouble in Tigray a government fresh from the success of ending hostilities with Eritrea in a whole new world of difficulty. Which is why I wanted to share the following story, if only as means of demonstrating the importance of travelling with purpose, especially in times like these.

Some background first. As you may know, the Africa House Group consists of three entities: Journeys by Design, Wild Philanthropy, and Tekula Capital, our social enterprise investment vehicle and probably the least well known members of the group. Africa House’s mission is to transform the way tourism benefits Africa. JbD’s role is the facilitating of travel to at-risk ecosystems. WP helps support these ecosystems through philanthropic donations and projects. Tekula Capital provides the means with which to invest in eco-businesses in these ecosystems. Our very first investment is Wild Expeditions Ethiopia, which is part-owned and entirely run by Ethiopian nationals, and which has very quickly made a name for itself as Ethiopia’s finest ground handler.

The impact of Covid on the Omo Valley has been especially serious. The river’s dams have resulted in years of failed floods, which the people of the Omo rely on for crops. Proceeds from sustainable tourism – facilitated largely through Wild Expeditions Ethiopia – were one of the only other form of revenue. As a result, food security is a massive issue.  Fortunately, we have been able to deliver $6,000 worth of grain, which is is enough to last the villages benefiting three months. The story as to how is a wonderful example of the kind of travel-driven conservation model the Africa House Group is all about.

The funding for the grain came from Miyamoto Relief, a non-profit run by a JbD client who fundraised to support the communities. WP sent the funds to Wild Expeditions who coordinated safe passage and delivery on the ground. The client had been to Lale’s Camp a few years ago, and subsequently invited Lale to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Las Vegas. This led to a group of engineers going to the Omo to help design the solar irrigation system for a community farm.

Unfortunately, when Covid, we were still in the process of raising money to pay for the farm. Food supplies had been running low. Miyamoto Relief fundraised and provided the funds to fill the gap. Wild Philanthropy matched the donation and will do another food distribution in 3 months time if needed. This is enough grain to keep people going for 3 months.

So, travel, philanthropy, and an investment in eco-businesses on the ground. That’s the model, and the above’s a prime example of that model in action. If you’d like to learn more, please do get in touch with Paul Herbertson. If you’d like to travel to the Omo, please get in touch with Will Jones, Hannah Rayner or Angela Sasha.

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