Unleashing the potential of local organisations in linking conservation and development

IIED supported and raised the profile of local organisations in East Africa, to help make the case for investing in and scaling-up community-based approaches to transforming landscapes, economies and rural societies.

2009 - 2014
Dilys Roe

Principal researcher and team leader (biodiversity), Natural Resources

Conservation, communities and equity
A programme of work showing how IIED is building capacity to understand and implement equitable conservation and enhance community voice in conservation policymaking
People sitting around a table

Project partners share their experiences during a global learning network meeting in Uganda (Photo: Bill Vorley, IIED)

National and international agencies increasingly recognise that grassroots institutions, independent of the state, whose members and beneficiaries have strong links to a specific geographical place and community, underpin the success and sustainability of most environmental and developmental initiatives.

The role of local organisations has been emphasised, for example, in the practical and policy guidance on reaching the international targets set by the Millennium Development Goals and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Yet there is still not enough attention paid to supporting local organisations and creating conditions that bring out the best from them.

What did IIED do?

Building directly on IIED’s experience of working on community-based approaches to conservation in Africa and elsewhere, we worked in collaboration with Birdlife International and the Equator Initiative to understand the roles and common enabling and constraining factors that affect the work of five East African organisations in linking conservation and development. These organisations include:

  • The Kijabe Environment Volunteers, Kenya
  • The Muliru Farmers Conservation Group, Kenya
  • Uplift the Rural Poor, Uganda
  • The Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development, Uganda, and
  • The Forest of Hope Association, Rwanda.

Through an analysis of the respective profiles of the five organisations, we made targeted recommendations for how the ‘enabling environment’ in which local organisations work could be improved in order to achieve better outcomes for maintaining biodiversity through conservation, and also for local community development.

Read more about why working with local organisations can be an important entry point for conservation and poverty reduction based on the experiences of Birdlife International, and our recommendations for governments, development agencies and donors if we want local organisations to thrive.

Additional resources

Eight ways to unleash the potential of local organisations, Dilys Roe, David H.L. Thomas, Oliver Hughes, Madeleine Nyiratuza, David Kimani Kuria, James Imbayi Ligare, Beatrice Kabihogo, Tinka John Amooti (2009), IIED Briefing