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Sustaining Community-based Conservation and Livelihood Projects


Responding to Change: Expediting and scaling up integrated approaches for sustainable coastal resource management that improve livelihoods and food security for coastal and small fishing communities. 

The challenge of continuing community-based conservation projects once the initial external funding (which is usually brokered by the lead NGO) has been exhausted, is one which is often underestimated – but it can have profound impact on the sustainability of the project and its outcomes. To help overcome this difficulty and to support strategies for fully transitioning management responsibility to communities, it is common practice for NGOs to integrate the development of sustainable funding mechanisms and local enterprises aimed at providing alternative livelihood opportunities or long-term financial support for the project.


Key messages: 

  • Planning for long-term sustainability beyond the exit of the initial funders should be an essential part of all community-based conservation and livelihood projects
  • Failure to sustain projects can lead to a loss of their positive impacts, stalled community development, and a breakdown of trust
  • Long-term income can be generated through community development initiatives including eco-tourism, payment for ecosystem services, trust funds and endowments, and improved fisheries management
  • Multiple sources and levels of funding increase actor commitment and project resilience, as do wide-ranging coalitions and partnerships
  • Long-term sustainability strategies require broad-based community consultation and endorsement, and strong leadership from within the community
  • Clear roles and responsibilities must be established, and communities empowered to manage projects directly.