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Equator Initiative Case Study – Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary

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This community-managed wildlife sanctuary consists of a 34-km stretch of riverine forest, floodplain, and savannah woodland along the Black Volta River, in northwestern Ghana. Created in 1998 in response to the decline of hippopotami in the region due to high levels of hunting, the sanctuary has used revenue from ecotourism to deliver infrastructure investments for the residents of its seventeen member communities.
Through a balancing of ecological and social needs, the sanctuary has delivered substantial conservation and socioeconomic benefits: poaching has been eliminated and the hippo population has stabilized within the sanctuary’s core zone, while investments in schools, health facilities, solar lighting, and water infrastructure have improved the wellbeing of approximately 10,000 residents of the sanctuary’s development zone. In 2009, the initiative was used as a model for the design of Ghana’s Community Resource Management Area legislation. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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