With generous donations from Bisate Lodge guests, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda – in partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (The Fossey Fund) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – has rehabilitated the existing water infrastructure at Bunyenyeri and Bushokoro.
The communities are situated close to Bisate Lodge and Bisate Primary School in Rwanda’s Musanze District. The project, which started in late September 2019, will ensure a population of some 5 000 people from Bunyenyeri, Karambi Kazi, Kumazi, Myase and Nyarusizi villages continues to have access to clean water.
“Since the end of November 2019 the communities are happy to know that they will be able to continue accessing water in their villages and to have new water taps which will make it easier to get water. The project has been so successful that the community leaders from the surrounding areas have approached us for a similar project to provide water in their villages. Together with our partners we are looking into possible solutions for these villages. To be continued!” says Ingrid Baas, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda Operations Manager.
“We are excited to have finalised this important project. Wilderness Safaris Rwanda and The Fossey Fund teams have worked tirelessly to secure sufficient funds to enable us to confirm the project plans. In addition, the continued support of the RDB and Volcanoes National Park (VNP) Warden, Prosper Uwingeli have been crucial to the success of the project. Finally, we also thank those Bisate Lodge guests who believed in our vision to conserve and restore this area, and donated to the project; their contributions totalled an amazing USD24 500 in resources for the construction and management of the project”, adds Ingrid.
With current water points not working properly, the community members residing close to Bisate Lodge often had to walk long distances to access clean water. Ingrid and her team observed the absence of this basic human right and were anxious to offer assistance. “We have seen residents, sometimes including small children, walking for an hour just to fill a single yellow 20-litre water container. We wanted to make their lives easier and provide more hygiene. Furthermore, the project will help to mitigate the real risk of community members collecting water from VNP, which compromises the mountain gorillas and other wildlife and vegetation in the Park, which is vital to the local economy”, says Ingrid.
Together with The Fossey Fund, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda develops and implements projects that will essentially reduce anthropogenic pressure on the Park, while improving the livelihoods of the community members. The rehabilitation and construction of the Bunyenyeri and Bushokoro water infrastructure alone has positively impacted six villages, neighbouring VNP schools and the Bisate Health Center. A water committee will ensure maintenance of the water sources and organise repairs to the infrastructure when needed.
“Our investment in Rwanda is helping to ensure that Wilderness Safaris’ brand of responsible ecotourism continues to make a positive difference to both rural Rwandans and biodiversity conservation. Our launch of Magashi Camp in Akagera National Park in May this year, and our venture into Gishwati-Mukura National Park – where we have signed a 25-year concession agreement with the RDB for the creation of a multi-phased conservation tourism management programme – further showcases our long-term commitment to Rwanda”, concludes Ingrid.
In 2009, Wilderness Safaris began contemplating how its ecotourism model could contribute to the conservation of the Virunga Massif ecosystem and an iconic Endangered species like the mountain gorilla. The launch of Bisate at Volcanoes National Park in the west of Rwanda in June 2017 was a momentous occasion for Wilderness Safaris, as the company fulfilled its intent to continue to build sustainable conservation economies in Africa. Since opening, Bisate Lodge has contributed immensely to surrounding communities through the support and initiation of numerous community projects, including supplying solar lights, blankets, school supplies and children’s scholarships, as well as income-generating arts and crafts projects.
Report by Ingrid Baas – December 2019