Creation of Decent Work Employment in rural areas of Laikipia (Kenya) through eco-tourism, with a special focus on village communities

How can poor rural communities living close to tourist attractions/lodges participate in eco-tourism through employment creation within their socio-ecology?

Abstract

This study intends to find out the potential of local communities to participate in eco-tourism activities in marginal regions focusing on Laikipia District, a low-income region in Kenya. Experience has shown that eco-tourism in Laikipia is attractive for international tourists and has considerable profit potential. However, the local population participates only to a moderate extend, as employment possibilities are largely offered by tourist lodges owned by outside companies, while self-employment initiatives mostly by NGOs, like producing and marketing of handicrafts are isolated and without further forward and backward linkages. An initiative of the government aims at integrating whole village communities into the tourism business to create income possibilities and the same time avoid human-wildlife conflicts. The project will investigate the potential of community-based initiatives to supply goods and services to tourists and thus contribute to livelihood security and decent employment within the village community. In particular it will explore the experiences made so far in communities which had been included the integration program. The research will be largely based on surveys among four communities in different distances to tourism hotspots, two of them are included in the government program, and two are not. It will have a pilot character and should be the basis for applying for a larger research project.

The aim of the project

The aim of the project is to stimulate the development of eco-tourism based enterprises for employment creation at the village level and income diversification in Laikipia District in Kenya by investigating the potential to supply services and goods demanded by tourists in this special segment. This is expected to reduce poverty and create more thriving village economies. Specifically, the project seeks possibilities to mobilise villagers into groups and identify eco-tourist based local value added products and services that can be incorporated into tourists’ activities; to create village-based enterprises through participatory work that would include processing and sale points within the villages; and link the village groups and enterprises with tourist accommodations and other tourist destinations in the area. The research would for that purpose draw on the experiences made by and with the population of the village communities included in the government program, and it would compare them with those made over the same period of consideration in villages which have not been included in this program.