Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO)

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Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO)

Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Historical definitions and practices of conservation have a limited focus on protecting wildlife rather than having a broader perspective of nurturing the entire eco system. Dale Lewis has introduced market based conservation that recognizes the interconnectedness between, and therefore seeks to protect, a broad range of wildlife species and livelihoods with human beings playing a central role as protectors of the entire ecological system. His livelihoods programs have transformed families across Zambia from food-insecure and poachers to major distributors of food to millions of people across Zambia and beyond. As a result poaching around the valley has reduced by about 50%. Dale is currently working in the Luangwa Valley, home to nearly twenty percent of the human population and a significant chunk of the wildlife population in Zambia. His success has compelled the Wildlife Conservation Society to adopt market based conservation and has attracted big global commercial brands such as Wal-mart and the government of Zambia to work with him in spreading his work across Zambia and to other parts of southern Africa.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Dale Lewis sees that food shortages are the main driving force behind poaching and therefore the top hindrance to the success of conservation programs. Turning this situation around demands more than just stronger punishment for destroying the environment; it requires new social, economic and environmental architecture and a re-definition of roles for communities living in and around wildlife conservation areas. Dale has introduced new sustainable farming practices that promote the co-existence of human populations and wildlife and simultaneously increase food stocks all year round for families that face food shortages. Connected to this is the first community based decentralized food processing infrastructure in Zambia that guarantees new incomes for households. By doing this, Dale has created new roles in society for former poachers. He uses his successful farming and economic program to mobilize them and turn them into the drivers of this new social and economic architecture around the Luangwa Valley. They have become ambassadors of the market based conservation idea to other people in the valley teaching them about responsible farming and becoming enforcers of new rules that require farmers benefiting from Dale’s program to meet certain standards in protecting the environment. For example a group of top performing farmers – many of whom are former poachers – are tasked with monitoring the compliance of farmers across the valley to responsible farming practices that protect water catchment areas and wildlife and reward them with premium prices for their farm produce. Sustaining the interest of the communities requires the creation of a sustainable economic model that is competitive and profitable at the local and international level. Dale has successfully created such a system. He has created “It’s Wild” the top selling brand in the rice, soy meal and honey sectors in the Zambian market. His brands have attracted interest from Shoprite and Spar, the leading supermarket chains across southern Africa and global business brands such as Walmart. His decentralized community based food processing model has engaged government in finding ways of spreading it across Zambia.