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VukaNow's Unstoppable Collaboration to Counter Wildlife Crime

Beth Skorochod

Wildlife crime is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise decimating Southern Africa’s iconic wildlife and undermining its economic prosperity and sustainable development. In response, USAID Southern Africa embarked on a regional program to address wildlife crime. The VukaNow Activity was born out of a co-creation process that convened dozens of partners with a stake in ending wildlife crime in Southern Africa. Despite these co-creative origins, VukaNow -- which USAID set up as a “backbone” to catalyze learning and sharing across its Countering Wildlife Crime (CWC) portfolio -- was initially viewed as a competitor to many of the partners and stakeholders it was designed to support. The project worked tirelessly in its first two years, through a blend of in-person and virtual events, dialogue, and outreach, building relationships to transform a fragmented, often tension-filled team of diverse implementers, into a cohesive unit willing to share and learn from each other. 

One recent event, Resiliency Planning, demonstrates how VukaNow used CLA to address the developmental challenge of combating wildlife crime.  Through internal collaboration, VukaNow identified the need to address shocks to the CWC portfolio in Southern Africa, including COVID-19. It developed a collaborative process for planning the meeting and tapped into the knowledge and expertise of an internal network for strategic collaboration and decision making. The meeting employed a knowledge management approach in sourcing expertise and information to create a technical evidence base for discussion. Hypotheses were generated based on the evidence and scenario planning helped partners and stakeholders develop action plans for potential scenarios. 

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