Community engagement and development is central to the long-term sustainability of Garamba, with a key focus on education, healthcare and alternative livelihoods for the 100,000 people living near and around the park.
In 2017 Garamba employed almost 500 full-time local staff 2,000 more on short-term contracts. In addition, several dedicated community personnel have been recruited, trained and deployed to work directly with the surrounding communities on community projects and environmental awareness programmes.
Environmental education in local community schools has been a huge success, with thousands of schoolchildren and their teachers learning about conservation through guided park visits, school lessons, brochures and films. The park supported two primary schools and one secondary school in 2017, through supplementing teachers’ salaries, facilitating a total of 280 students on school visits to the park and more than 1,500 students were exposed to sensitisation activities on the environment and human health issues, including malaria and HIV-AIDS.
Community involvement is essential for the long-term future of the park, and with large support from the EU, we are working with local communities to identify alternative sources of income, provide health care facilities and education, and are encouraging less dependency on the park's limited resources, providing people instead with the potential for a long-term, sustainable future.
A number of initiatives have been put in place to diversify livelihoods and create sustainable sources of income for the communities that live in the areas surrounding Garamba. These have included programmes focused on training in agriculture, bee-keeping, fish farming, reforestation and animal husbandry programmes, to name just a few.
Infrastructure projects have also gone a long way in improving communities’ access to essential services, such as the construction of Nagero Hospital just outside the park.
Due to the lack of basic services in the area, healthcare is a major focus of Garamba’s community development. Four mobile health clinics were deployed in 2017, that provided free medical consultation and medication at cost. Numerous refugees have been treated, and 671 children were immunised against measles. Overall, almost 9,700 people benefited from the Nagero Hospital and these clinics during the year.
The construction of a fully equipped hospital outside the park has also made a big difference in the lives of the local communities, providing them with proper medical care for the first time. The hospital building opened in 2013, and alongside this initiative, the procurement of medical supplies and equipment has meant hospital staff can perform surgeries and laboratory tests on-site. Park staff and their families receive free medical care and medication, while people in the surrounding community receive free consultations and medicines at the purchase price.
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