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Liuwa Plain National Park Livelihoods baseline study

In 2018, KIT Royal Tropical Institute conducted a large-scale livelihoods baseline study in Liuwa Plain National Park (LPNP), Zambia. The study assessed the current situation of communities living in the park though an elaborate mixed-methods design as a basis for informing future decision-making on socio-economic investments in local communities.  

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Understanding the fine balance between wildlife & local communities

LPNP is located in the Western Province of Zambia. The Park is biologically diverse – with abundant birdlife and large mammals – and is home to an estimated 12,700-15,000 people, most of whom are part of the ethnic group of the Lozi people. These people legally reside in the Park and enjoy traditional residence rights, including access to the Park’s fishing grounds for artisanal fishing and access to agricultural fields. Fishing and agriculture are recognised as the mainstays of communities’ livelihoods, but overall, little data exists on the local communities that live in the Park.  

While park management has engaged in different community outreach activities, pressures are mounting which affect the co-existence of wildlife and human beings. A previous assessment by KIT in 2017 highlighted that many of the challenges facing LPNP are grounded in the deep impoverishment of its growing human population. 

As a result, in 2018 African Parks commissioned KIT to conduct an extensive household livelihoods study in LPNP to provide in-depth information on the current situation of communities living in the Park. The study will inform future decision-making on socio-economic investments in local communities. 

The study targeted the following objectives:  

  1. Inform. Provide detailed information on the topics of interest identified by African Parks regarding the situation and livelihoods of the park’s inhabitants. 
  1. Connect. Contribute to stronger relationships between African Parks’ staff and local communities by means of a participatory research approach. 
  1. Sensitise. Familiarise African Parks’ staff with data collection methods for the purpose of monitoring, evaluation and learning. 
  1. Develop. Contribute to developing a common vision for future pathways for Liuwa Plain National Park by African Parks and local communities. 

Household survey details & recommendations 

KIT collected household-level survey data from 1,185 households, covering topics such as livelihood strategies, human-wildlife conflict, food and nutrition security, gender and social cohesion, and health. At the same time, KIT organised 44 focus group discussions separately with women, men, leadership and youth groups, involving 302 individuals from different communities across the park. 

The study lead the KIT team in formulating the following recommendations: 

  1. Improve productivity of agricultural production to increase food availability and income generation 
  1. Diversify crop production, knowledge on nutrition and good processing for enhanced food and nutrition security 
  1. Promote community participation in conservation and ensure that conservation objectives are linked to local development needs 
  1. Utilise gender relations as an entry point for inclusive development in Liuwa 
  1. Facilitate health-seeking behaviour and improve health-related infrastructure 

Sharing and discussing results with the communities 

Our team formulated the recommendations based on the results of the study, but also through a validation process with community leaders and stakeholders as well as with the communities visited during the data collection process.  

The community sessions were open to all members and were attended by women, men, youth and leaders. To facilitate the discussion in a low-tech, low-literacy environment, the team developed pictogram-based posters. The posters supported information sharing, particularly as a way of communicating the survey’s  results to those who participated in it and sharing tangible takeaways from the sessions.  

This process aimed to mitigate the extractive feeling often left from data collection, where researchers visit the communities for the data, but the results are rarely shared. We also conducted participatory exercises with the communities to select the top priorities, validate the results from the study and formulate concrete recommendations.  

Furthermore, KIT also developed a list of Key Performance Indicators, which can be traced over time as an indicator of change.  

Services delivered

  • Applied research

    KIT Royal Tropical Institute addresses development challenges at local, regional and global levels through research that generates new insights and knowledge in our areas of expertise: health, sustainable economic development and gender.

  • Monitoring, Evaluation & Impact Assessment

    Monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment are powerful tools to assess health, social, and economic impact. They allow us to learn what works and why. Our expertise and track record in these areas make us well-equipped to evaluate your work. 

  • Education, training and coaching

    There is probably no better contribution towards sustainable development than investing in people and building capacities at all levels. KIT Royal Tropical Institute plays a major role in this by offering a range of education and capacity building services, from formal education at masters level to client-oriented training and coaching support. Our training and coaching programmes are tailor-made to address the unique objectives and capacities of the requesting organisation

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