February 2016 – Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is excited to launch its revised strategy for the next four years, focusing on making a sustainable and positive difference in the lives of rural African schoolchildren and their families through environmental and life skills education.
“If we are to ensure that Africa’s pristine wilderness areas continue to exist, we need the rural children of Africa to understand the importance of conservation and its relevance in their lives. Over the last 15 years we have made a positive difference in the lives of many rural communities, and looking ahead, we plan to build on this momentum. Not only will we continue to grow our Eco-Clubs in terms of participants and coverage, but we will also put a key emphasis on ongoing support through scholarships and exposure to potential career opportunities once they leave school”, says Dr Sue Snyman, CITW Regional Programme Director.
CITW is a non-profit organisation supported by Africa’s leading sustainable ecotourism company, Wilderness Safaris. It is an environmental and life skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of African rural decision makers, developing environmental leaders who are inspired to care for their natural heritage so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future. This is achieved in a variety of ways, from running regular Eco-Clubs at schools, to three-day camps at Wilderness Safaris and partner camps.
The programme currently operates in six countries: Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By the end of 2015, CITW had run camp programmes for over 5 600 children, with more than 2 500 children participating in 58 Eco-Clubs in 2015 and 302 children on its scholarship programme.
Some of the primary goals for 2016 – 2019 include:
- Increase the number of children in Eco-Clubs to 5 000 per year;
- Increase Eco-Club coverage (more Eco-Clubs formed rather than more children in each Eco-Club);
- Increase the frequency of Eco-Mentor and Teacher training;
- Increase the number of children supported on the CITW scholarship programme to 500;
- Enhance the CITW camp and Eco-Club curriculum and programme;
- Establish an Internship Programme with Wilderness Safaris for CITW participants.
“We also strongly believe that in order for our environmental education programmes to have a lasting impact, it is vital that we reach not only the children, but the adults in the community too”, says Snyman. In 2014, CITW launched Adult Eco-Clubs, aimed at diversifying livelihoods by helping adults to set up their own businesses.
The pilot project was launched in Maun, Botswana for parents of children at Shashe Primary School and the group has already sold its wares to the general public and Wilderness Safaris, with similar Adult Eco-Clubs rolled out in three more communities in Botswana. “Plans are now in place to expand the programme, not only elsewhere in Botswana, but in more countries in southern Africa, starting with Namibia and Zimbabwe”, concludes Snyman.
To watch a short video on CITW, click here.
CITW camp activities focusing on environmental education