We all know that planet Earth is in peril

Global warming, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, energy inefficiency, human-animal conflict, safety, security, unemployment, poverty, hunger – the list is endless. 

On the environmental side, coastal regions, in particular, are undergoing rapid decline. It is estimated that approximately 3 billion people — about half of the world’s population — live within 200 kilometres of a coastline. In Africa, the average population density in coastal areas is about 80 people per square kilometre, twice the world’s average population density. 

 

As an industry, tourism is ideally positioned to make a difference.

It generated 10% of the World’s GDP and created 1/10 jobs worldwide in 2018. As such, tourism impacts the World across many fronts, including economic growth and development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, peace, and security. However, the potential of Africa’s tourism remains largely untapped. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reports that the African region receives only a 3% share in tourism receipts and a 5% share in worldwide arrivals.

And yet, the African continent is endowed with rich diversity, an abundance of natural beauty, cultural heritage and historical sites, wildlife, safaris, beaches, deserts and so much more. If channelled correctly, these assets could provide considerable opportunities for niche tourism growth and, above all, solve many of the factors that inhibit tourism growth in Africa.

Universal factors that place planet Earth in peril.

Fortunately, there are strategies in place to measure, enhance, and overcome these factors by 2030. They’re known as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition, the UN Environmental Programme ‘Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)’ aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction. It will only succeed if everyone plays a part.

But 2030 is just a decade away. 

 

So, how can Africa play its part?

As an African collective, we need to rally behind the UN Environmental Programme. We need to gather local research data applicable to each of the 17 SDGs; we need to create awareness of the SDGs; we need to identify new tourism opportunities; we need to showcase our natural and cultural heritage assets to global audiences through storytelling; and we need to do all of this through mass participation and action.

And the best way to do that is by arranging a series of public participation multi-stage coastal walkathons.

Why a Walkathon?

A walkathon (walk-a-thon) is defined as a long-distance walk organised as a fundraising event in which participants raise money by collecting donations or pledges for walking predetermined distances. As such, walkathons not only generate revenue for a cause but also create mass awareness of the cause that participants rally behind.

silhouettes of people

Welcome to Walk For Africa

Organised by host Country Steering Committees, the walkathon events will cover the coastlines of Africa’s 40 countries – a distance of approximately 40,000 km / 25,000 miles or 52 million steps.

Watch the video below to see which countries will be walked.

BACKGROUND

Walk For Africa (W4A) started in 2018 when its founder, South African travel journalist Desmond Langkilde, reached out to his network of tour operators in Africa with a simple question; “Which niche sector of tourism, in your opinion, has the greatest potential for growth, job creation, and protecting your country’s environment?”

The answers were unanimous; eco-tourism, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism. All of these terms mean the same thing; they account for current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities in a sustainable way.

The next step was to start a working group by inviting the above respondents to read and submit comments on a Draft Project Proposal by the deadline of 31 January 2020. Their respective input resulted in the formation of Walk For Africa, a collective Mission Statement, and an operational Walkathon Plan for the events.

During the consultation process, members were also invited to serve on Country Steering Committees (CSCs) as either Country Project Managers or CSC Chairpersons. A Country Steering Committee Terms of Reference (ToR) document was then drafted to guide members in this regard.

The above process resulted in nine CSCs being formed, namely Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Tunisia. The remaining 31 CSCs will be established as and when founding members from these countries come on board and volunteer to serve on steering committees within their respective countries.

By mid-February we’d set up a 5,000 USD crowdfunding plea to register the Walk For Africa project as a non-profit organisation (NPO), to build a website, to Secure Directors & Officers liability insurance for the NPO board, to appoint an accounting/auditing firm for bookkeeping in the 1st year, and to purchase a limited supply of branded merchandise for promotion.

And then, in mid-March 2020 the dreaded coronavirus pandemic happened! As you know, the past six months of COVID-19 lockdown as had a disastrous effect on the global travel and tourism industry. And more so in Africa where operators simply did not have the financial reserves to withstand prolonged loss of income, resulting in business closures, job losses, and hardship for tourist guides and rural communities whose livelihoods depend on revenues generated by tourism.

Needless to say, as a result of the lockdown our crowdfunding effort hit a brick wall after raising just $190 by March 30th and we had to postpone the first walkathon launch to 27 September 2021 (World Tourism Day).

By then we hope that an antiviral vaccine will have been discovered to arrest the coronavirus spread and tourists will feel safe to travel again.

So now, with travel and tourism being very important activities in the post-COVID-19 recovery process, and with the launch of this website in October 2020, we’re starting our fundraising drive again – with a lot more donor options.

VIEW OUR DONATE PAGE

Announcing our 2nd Project

Well, this project idea came after we had created Walk For Africa, but it has to happen first. The reason is that we have recce the coastline by walking the same route plan before each walkathon is launched.

Telling Africa’s Story – One Step At A Time

We will be hosting journalism, film, and visual communications students to join us on this Odyssey to gain practical storytelling/reporting skills and experience.

STUDENTS CAN APPLY HERE