A fund in the Succulent Karoo Hotspot is demonstrating how grassroots development and conservation can thrive together.
During its first two years, groups supported by the fund — known as SKEPPIES — created 34 businesses and 269 local jobs, trained 567 people, and helped conserve nearly 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres) of biologically rich land while improving the management of 41,000 hectares (101,300 acres) of land and protecting 121 kinds of plants on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
EXPLORE: Learn more about South Africa.
SKEPPIES, under the management of CI's Conservation South Africa and guided by a management committee that is chaired by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), supports community projects that combine biodiversity conservation and economic growth. Activities supported by SKEPPIES range from the creation of hiking trails and a community garden to a rugby club promoting conservation awareness. In one project, Anatolian dogs were given to communal farmers in Namaqualand to protect sheep and other stock from predators. In addition to decreasing the use of traps that can unintentionally harm non-targeted predator species, farmers reported fewer stock losses in herds protected by the dogs.
Another project was started by four Namaqualand women who sell traditional food prepared in "kookskerms" — cooking corrals — built from local bushes to provide protection from the area's strong winds. The Nama food has become popular with tourists, contributing to the viability of ecotourism in the area and further inspiring the participants, some of whom have since expanded their kitchens to include lodging facilities.
IN DEPTH: Learn more about the Kookskerms project
In recognition of the pilot phase success, CEPF and DBSA provided support to help SKEPPIES become a long-term fund for grassroots projects.
LEARN: Read more stories of community partnerships and successes.