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Non-governmental Organisations and African Wildlife Conservation: A Preliminary Analysis


  • Katherine Scholfield
  • Dan Brockington


This paper presents an attempt to provide a first overview of the collective activities of conservation non-government organisations (NGOs) working in Sub-Saharan Africa, presenting findings on the work of over 280 organisations. The number of NGOs in existence grew in the 1980s and blossomed in the 1990s. Their distribution across the continent is patchy. NGOs work in about 14 percent of the continent’s protected areas. Estimated average annual expenditure from 2004 to 2006 was just over US$200 million. This is at most about 40 percent of the lowest predicted needs, and these predictions are themselves likely to be substantial underestimates of the sums required for effective conservation by conservation NGOs. Spending by country matches some declared conservation priorities well, without taking into account cost of doing conservation in different countries. In our concluding discussion we examine the diversity of the conservation NGO sector. We argue that the sector will probably need to scale up its activities by one order of magnitude to achieve its stated goals. We offer reasons why this might not be such an impossible task. But we also note that the possibility of more funding raises a number of awkward questions. These include: is money being spent effectively now? Does scaling-up mean more money to existing organisations or a whole set of new ones? More fundamentally, many studies have noted that there are numerous problems associated with existing levels and patterns of expenditure. Scaling up NGO activity will not deal with these problems, they could make many worse. We argue that the problems will be best addressed by recognising them explicitly.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine Scholfield & Dan Brockington, 2009. "Non-governmental Organisations and African Wildlife Conservation: A Preliminary Analysis," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 8009, GDI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:8009

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