Towards Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries: An Analysis of Ecotourism Implementation in the Kakum Conservation Area, Ghana

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Poverty remains the most widespread social problem in developing countries, and despite attempts by national governments and international organisations it
continues unabated, due to factors such as neglect of environmental and cultural
issues, weak institutions and political instability. Ecotourism has been identified
as having the potential to reduce poverty by stimulating pro-poor growth while
protecting the environment. Regardless of this potential, and the existence of
diverse ecotourism attractions in developing countries, the contribution of
ecotourism to poverty reduction remains a distant hope in host communities
confronted with severe poverty. Understanding of the application of ecotourism
theory to poverty reduction and its outcomes is limited. This research addresses
this gap by focusing on: the potential of ecotourism to contribute to poverty
reduction in developing countries; the application of the concept of ecotourism in Ghana; and the outcomes of ecotourism on poverty reduction in rural Ghana.

This research is based on pragmatism and mixed methods, using four case study communities around the Kakum Conservation Area (KCA). Qualitative data,
using semi-structured and in-depth interviews, were collected from 8 agency
representatives and 40 community households respectively from April-July 2012. Quantitative data were also collected in the same period, with 310 household respondents across the case study communities. The data were validated through community meetings and presentations to the agencies from February-March 2014.

The findings indicated that although poverty in developing countries is
multidimensional, the dynamics are particularly complex in rural Ghana, where
key issues relate to a poor traditional system of governance, farm raids by wildlife and loss of access to resources following the gazettal of the KCA and the
introduction of ecotourism. As a consequence, the living conditions of the poor in the communities located around the KCA remain uncertain and difficult. The
findings also demonstrated that the introduction of ecotourism into one protected area does not in itself contribute to poverty reduction in the local communities immediately adjacent to the area. The park officials’ lack of adequate engagement with the political process of stakeholder negotiations required to deliver multiple ecotourism benefits across the wider landscape has resulted in community disillusionment. While the national government and some local people receive economic benefits from ecotourism, the negative effects, such as farm raid by wildlife, lack of access to non timber forest products are widespread in the communities adjacent to the KCA. The relevant agencies’ limited understanding of ecotourism as a political process of negotiations to achieve multiple goals remains a barrier to ecotourism’s contribution to poverty reduction in Ghana.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Black, Rosemary, Co-Supervisor
  • Thwaites, Rik, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Oct 2014
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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