Many communities are dependent on parks’ natural resources for their survival. © Lorenz Fischer

Do you think the number of poor people in the world has gone up or down in the past 25 years? This is the question Bell and Melinda Gates ask, and then answer in a recent New York Times opinion piece, where they highlight the extraordinary strides that have been made resulting in more than a billion people overcoming poverty just in the last 18 years. While extreme poverty is disappearing from many places, including China and India thanks to investments in education, agricultural techniques and technology, poverty is increasing in a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa marked by violent conflict, severe climate change, weak governance and broken health and education systems.

However, there is hope. By giving people the opportunity and tools they can defy the odds. That is why empowering communities is central to the African Parks model. We work in some of the most remote areas in Africa, where people often rely on the park's resources for their survival. Through good governance in overall park management, by building and funding schools, and teacher and nurse salaries, by providing income-generating activities from the employment the parks provide to sustainable enterprises like honey production and fisheries, we are seeing a conservation-led economy emerge in the most unlikely of places.

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