African Nature-Based Tourism Collaborative Platform: A Response to Covid-19

Tourist vehicles in a line with mountains in the background
GEF logo of a blue and green gradient sphere and green ring around it. The letters gef are below this planet

The Covid-19 crisis has harmed economies and industries all over the world, and nature-based tourism has been one of the leading economic casualties. For many Southern and Eastern African countries, this means a significant loss of funding for their conservation operations, local community livelihoods, and tourism enterprises.

Emergency relief funds are available, but there exists an unequal distribution in the losses incurred by the African tourism industry, and difficulty in gaining access to available resources for those most in need, particularly marginalized rural communities and small and medium nature-based tourism enterprises (SMEs). From a funder perspective, there is poor coordination of information and funding opportunities and weak alignment to real needs on the ground.

The Solution

In response, with $1,903,000 in funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an African Nature-Based Tourism Collaborative Platform is being developed to connect funders to the communities and SMEs most in need of funding support, with a goal of mobilizing at least $15 million to support communities and SMEs in Covid-19 emergency relief efforts and to build greater resilience into the nature-based tourism business model into the future. Using a bottom-up approach, the platform will gather data on impacts to communities and SMEs from the Covid-19 crisis, enhance knowledge sharing between relevant actors, facilitate the development of funding proposals from communities and SMEs, and make these available to relevant donors.

Project focal geographies include Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Key platform partners include national community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) networks in most of the focal countries, a data clearinghouse, non-governmental organizations, and donors. WWF will serve as the GEF implementing and executing agency, as well as host the platform.

Project Components

Component 1: Data clearinghouse
With the facilitation of national CBNRM networks and non-governmental organizations, data will be gathered from local communities and SMEs across the project area to better understand how Covid-19 has impacted them, and their resulting financial needs. The online platform will continuously process and house this data and make it available to donors and other platform supporters. Data on prospective funding resources available to mitigate the impacts will also be available on the platform.

Component 2: Facilitating links between funders, communities, and SMEs
The key goal of the platform is to facilitate matchmaking between donors and beneficiary communities and SMEs, resulting in the growth and well-targeted distribution of Covid-19 emergency relief funds, stimulus packages, and other financial support. With the facilitation of national CBNRM networks and non-governmental organizations, data collected in Component 1 will be used to connect communities and SMEs to appropriate donors and assist with proposal development. Component 2 will also focus on improved integration of nature-based tourism in investment decisions by governments and financial institutions.

Component 3: Monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management
A monitoring and evaluation framework will track the impacts of Covid-19 on nature-based tourism, the efficacy of funds raised through the platform, and develop and disseminate knowledge products.

An African community with a united voice stands a far greater chance of elevating this issue in the global agenda, amongst the many competing and related demands, and the platform will strive to achieve this through strong local leadership and collaboration. While the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated impacts will be felt for some time to come, the data gathered through this platform, the emergency relief funding secured, and the longer-term efforts to build the resilience of the nature-based tourism sector will benefit nature-based tourism in Africa well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Partners

Data clearinghouse

  • The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) 

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Resource Africa 
  • Coastal Ocean Research and Development - Indian Ocean (CORDIO)
  • Maliasili
  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

CBNRM Networks

  • Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NCONGO), Botswana
  • Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA)
  • Kasungu Wildlife Conservation for Community Development Association (KAWICCODA), Malawi
  • The Mozambique Community Based Natural Resources Management Network (R-GCRN)
  • The Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organizations (NACSO)
  • Zambia Community-Based Natural Resource Management Forum (ZCBNRMF)
  • Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE Association), Zimbabwe


      • Luc Hoffmann Institute
      • Maliasili
      • Resource Africa
      • The Nature Conservancy (TNC) 
      • The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD)
      • United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
      • WWF Regional Office for Africa
      • WWF-US

        Approved Project Documentation can be found here.