As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel has been at a standstill, affecting many developing countries in Africa that rely heavily on the funds that tourism generates. The aftermath of the lack of tourism has resulted in the loss of jobs for locals, decreased funding for conservation and a plummet in economic stability.
Effects on Tourism Revenue
The pandemic has affected people worldwide, especially in impoverished African countries where the tourism industry has flourished, becoming the second-fastest growing tourism industry in the world, noted in 2019. Conservation, safari and other nature-based tourism activities closely relate to each other, creating a large industry for Africa to economically capitalize and grow upon. With the ban on international travel, though, the country has not been able to yield the same amount of tourism profits as in 2018, when it brought in $194.2 billion.
Projections determine that profits will not be nearly as high in 2020 as they were in 2018. In 12 months, predictions are that Africa will lose over $30-$50 million in tourism revenue due to cancelations and rescheduling of international travel. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is detrimental to Africa in 2020 as the U.N. estimated the people have lost 2 million jobs, directly affecting funding for businesses.
Loss of jobs and businesses, directly linked to lack of tourism and COVID-19, has changed the estimates on the poverty line in 2020. While projections determined that poverty in 2020 would decrease to 7.8%, loss of work and an increase in COVID-19 cases has now estimated that the poverty rate will increase from 8.2% in 2019 to 8.6% in 2020.
Poaching on the Rise
Anti-poaching laws went into effect in 2013 to abolish wildlife crimes in an effort to help the wildlife remain. The loss of funding and lack of tourism has affected many industries but poaching specifically has continued to be an ethical issue that Africa’s wildlife conservation and implementation of anti-poaching laws continue to battle.
With tourism on the decline during the pandemic, wildlife conservation efforts and parks have become drastically underfunded and unsupervised, with the termination of income and jobs for many residents. Lack of supervision within the parks has allowed for poachers to find loopholes and become inconspicuous as supervision in the parks decreases due to employment cuts.
With approximately 2 million residents out of work, it was not unexpected for Africa’s wildlife to become the cheapest option for food. In fact, estimates determine that 49 million people will fall below the poverty line due to COVID-19’s effect on employment opportunities.
Solutions and Partners
Though conservationists have a potentially destructive crisis at hand, many organizations will continue to use reserved funds in hopes of donations from private sectors and the assistance of other organizations. Conservation NGO African Parks commits 100% of its donations to 17 other parks who are partnered with the organization. However, due to the decrease in tourism, the park has lost 10% of its budget.
The World Health Organization has set forth the Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which has raised $7.6 billion as of April from funding inside and outside of Global Health Outreach base funding. This funding will allow for the Humanitarian Response Plan to assist not only Africa but 53 other struggling countries, regions and continents globally. In January 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan sent “300 metric tons of humanitarian and medical cargo to 89 countries.” It will continue to assist with meals, water and medical supplies.
Severe food insecurity is not a new issue for residents in African regions: nearly 27.4% of the population was already severely food insecure in 2016. Urban areas will be heavily affected by these shortages. The World Food Program (WFP) is assessing the situation for food shortages. Knowing that many children receive food at school, WFP says it is working to provide “take-home rations” to assist with food insecurity. Furthermore, WFP positively stated that as of April 16, 2020, food assistance and movement remain normal for the time being and it is continuing to deliver food throughout South Africa.
– Allison Lloyd