African Pro-poor Tourism Development Centre (APTDC), a non-profit organization in Nairobi, Kenya, is working to realize tourism’s potential to alleviate poverty and empower rural communities through sustainable development. A sister organization of USA-based African Pro-Poor Tourism Foundation, APTDC has collaborated with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Kenya Red Cross, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and other partners in recent projects.

APTDC’s projects serve to remedy the troubling reality that tourism in Africa often provides little lasting benefit to local communities. Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, for instance, locally retains only five percent of its tourism revenue despite its immense popularity. Hotels in the area collectively spend only 1/30th of their budget for agricultural supplies on locally sourced items. Tourism has particularly neglected local women, who work mostly low-paying jobs or do not participate in the industry at all. APTDC, in co-operation with the ILO, has launched a new project to address these issues; its goal, to economically empower vulnerable women through the local procurement of food and agricultural supplies by hotels.

The tourism industry has steadily grown more open to purchasing locally-sourced foods, recognizing resulting benefits such as reduced transportation and refrigeration costs, improved quality and freshness, and brand enhancement from responsible practices. Following several small-scale pilot projects by APTDC, a number of significant hotels have joined the project, such as AA Lodge and Amboseli Serena. Meanwhile, local women’s groups have benefited from training on sustainable agricultural practices and business skills, and increased disposable income for education and basic needs from produce sales.

This project is just one of many successes for APTDC, which has recently collaborated with the Kenya Red Cross to combat the transmission of HIV/AIDS amongst high-risk populations through testing, counseling, and training community health volunteers in Kajiado County, Kenya.