Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grant money for the East Africa tourism

Yet another example of how tourism can't happen with environmental protections: USAID pledged $3 million (a grant) for ecosystem management in East Africa. Kenya's tourism industry, accounting for 10 percent of the economy, relies on a healthy ecosystem to sustain the large ungulate and other populations that attract so many visitors. Drought and pollution are the twin dangers to the freshwater components of the ecosystem, which are the focus of this USAID program.

It would be interesting to hear what other funding sources are contributing to these efforts, including not just grants but also investments in the private entreprises that benefit from (and therefore steward) the Mara River Basin. Though a U.S. agency's debt or equity investment in a foreign country may raise new governance and sovereignty issues, ideallyinvestments like the one USAID just made could hold some prospect of repayment. At a minimum, it might be worth the effort to see what other types of funds could be attracted to the basin as a result of USAID interest in the region.