Bupe Banda summarising lessons and pertinent questions at the summit.

USAID Southern Africa Program brings Young, Conservation Voices to the Forefront

By USAID Resilient Waters

The USAID Resilient Waters Program supported Bupe Banda, the young, female, head of Zambia’s National Community Resources Board, to attend the World Youth Wildlife Summit held in South Africa on September 21st -24th, 2019. The World Youth Wildlife Summit brought together 225 youth delegates, adult chaperones (educators and community leaders), conservation experts, and keynote speakers at the Southern African Wildlife College, to equip the youth to become Ambassadors for conservation and influencers to reduce wildlife crime.  

“When youth speak in an audience of many thought leaders, there is undivided attention from every listener. This motivates me to speak on behalf of communities... Having youth community representatives makes this voice even sharper and stronger. The youth conservationists of today will be the conservation leaders of tomorrow, hence the need to expose and mentor them adequately to take up the roles sooner than later.” Bupe Banda. 


Bupe Banda taking part in group sessions at the Africa.
Bupe Banda taking part in group sessions at the Africa.

The support from USAID Resilient Waters is on the background of the program bringing delegations of up to 40 community representatives from across the African continent to various conservation platforms in the region. The move has been to ensure the inclusion of local community perspectives at regional conservation related policy and learning forums. 

The forums include: the African Union Wildlife Economy Summit, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Conservation Forum, and the Business of Conservation Conference. In addition, support to this initiative is in line with the Program’s Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) strategy, which considers how social groups (particularly youth) may have different levels of agency and access to participate in and benefit from program activities.  


Bupe Banda summarising lessons and pertinent questions at the summit.

This emerging cadre of community conservation leadership has already influenced regional discussions and is starting to make impact at international forums. Their position is well articulated in the African Wildlife Economy Summit Community Declaration which called for a new deal for communities impacted by decisions made on conservation and wildlife.  

Increased human population and dwindling water availability are bringing wildlife, livestock, and people into conflict. Therefore, it is important that the affected communities are part of the regional and international policy discussions, which will ultimately impact biodiversity conservation. USAID Resilient Waters sees communities as critical players in conservation, and community engagement, empowerment and ownership of the conservation agenda as critical to securing a sustainable future for nature in Africa. “Communities are a major shareholder when it comes to conservation, thus respecting their participation and involvement goes beyond including the noun in policies, but also ensuring their voices are heard at every level of decision making” said Bupe.  

One of the USAID Resilient Waters Program’s objectives is to enhance the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Furthermore, the program aims to strengthen the ability of communities and key institutions to adapt to change, particularly the impacts of climate change. USAID Resilient Waters works with communities, governments, civil society, and the private sector to improve regional cooperation in the management of natural resources against the backdrop everchanging socio-political and environmental dynamics. This includes sustainable livelihood activities that support the coexistence of wildlife, biodiversityrich habitats, and people. Going forward USAID Resilient Waters will continue to support the inclusion of community voices into natural resource policies.

South Africa
Resilient Waters
Strategic Objective
Biodiversity Conservation, Climate, Water and Sanitation, Water Management

USAID Resilient Waters

USAID Resilient Waters is a five-year, $32 million project implemented by Chemonics International. Its goal is to build more resilient and water secure Southern African communities and ecosystems through improved management of trans-boundary natural resources and increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation services.

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