Evaluating the Efficacy of Integrated Conservation and Development Initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards an Evidence-Based Framework for Success

Dr. Robert Kozak and Dr. Joleen Timko

In developing economies, initiatives that seek to integrate conservation and development are often founded on the fact that, amidst abject poverty, the long-term prospects for biodiversity conservation are poor (Naughton-Treves et al. 2005). This is a particularly salient issue for Africa as it has “world-class conservation challenges that presently receive too little attention” (Pimm 2007: 568). With the highest percentage of people anywhere in the world that live on less than a dollar a day (Anderson et al., 2006), it has been estimated that Africa has almost 60% of its hundreds of millions of rural people living below the poverty line (Oksanen et al. 2003). Integrated Conservation and Development (ICD) efforts – common to Sub-Saharan Africa – explicitly aim to reconcile the biodiversity and socio-economic development interests of multiple stakeholders (Franks and Blomley 2004; McShane and Wells 2004). There is a pressing need to evaluate the effectiveness of ICDs, and recent calls for evidence-based approaches have arisen from concerns over the lack of empirical evidence showing the consequences of ICD interventions in terms of either conservation or poverty (Fisher et al. 2005). There is an urgency to learn from successful and effective ICDs that work. Identifying patterns among ICD initiatives will contribute to an understanding of the criteria required for success, including the appropriate ‘enabling conditions’ for ICDs to succeed and an understanding of what design characteristics they share (Hughes and Flintan 2001). We are seeking funds to conduct a study to systematically identify and rigorously test a set of key human, social and financial factors and conditions likely to lead to ICD success in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our proposed study compliments and extends research that has already been completed and directly addresses recent calls emanating from the scholarly literature for research in this domain.