Effects of Ecotourism on Livelihoods of Local Community and the Environment: The Case of Wonchi

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Addis Ababa University


Evidences show that ecotourism has fallen in many places short of its espoused benefits. It induced at destinations little or no livelihood gains, imposed environment damages than helped it conservation, and exacerbated income variability than realized the objective of assisting the impoverished and disadvantaged sections of local communities. Some even label ecotourism as mass tourism under new disguise. This study sought to examine the positive as well as negative effects ecotourism has both on community and environment at around Wonchi Crater Lake located in Wonchi wereda, in South West Shoo Zone of Oromia Region, where ecotourism has been taken as instrumental of creating altemative livelihood basis for local community and help oreserve the pristine environment which is under increasing population pressure. Given the exploratory nature of the study qualitative design with basic quantitative analysis was applied. Structured interview, Focus Group Discussion, Key informant interviews, and observation were the main instruments of inquiry employed in the study. The study analysis was conducted using primary data obtained from 122 sample households selected through systematic random sampling from Haro Wonchi kebele. Descriptive statistics and statistical analysis (Measures of central Tendency, Correlation, Regression and Chi-Square) were used to describe and test statistical significance of variables that influence sample households' direct benefit from ecotourism. The research result has shown ecotourism though positively affecting the lives of 20% of local community in terms of income and livelihood diversification the intended effects are too small to ecotourism serve as an alternative occupation. Direct benefits obtained as a result of participation in ecotourism related activites are not fairly distributed among residents. Environmentally ecotourism proved to have contributed nothing as of yet. No mechanism of soil or forest conservation is introduced, settlement is expanding in the previously preserved areas, the existing forest cover is under destruction for new farmland and commercial and domestic consumption of fire woods, and lake water is retreating as result of siltation from steep slope farming. Underpinning this all is the absence of strong formal institution that ensures both justifiable benefits distribution and the protection of natural resources. The implication of this to policy makers is that ecotourism should be founded on responsible strong institution which will refrain from pursuing the interest of few community members to be viable business. Moreover, it implicates that there should be mechanism by which a close supervision over such sites by government bodies is conducted. The case considered here has evidenced well that if not regulated common resources could be exploited beyond limit by few elites at the expense of the impoverished majority.



Ecotourism on Livelihoods