A high-end eco-lodge, Singita, will soon be opened at the footprint of Rwanda’s Virunga Mountain, home to gorillas.
The swanky lodge, once operational, intends to partner with local communities in Kinigi, Musanze district to ensure they benefit from this investment.
In August this year, Singita will open Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House on the border of the Volcanoes National Park.
The 178-acre piece of land on which Singita Kwitonda will sit, was once part of the Virunga Park, and now forms part of over 7,000 acres of the protected area under an ambitious undertaking by the government to restore wild life environment.
Singita is working with the local communities to rehabilitate, reforest and maintain the biological integrity of the land.
To support this initiative, Singita has established an on-site nursery bed that already holds more than 60,000 plants sourced from local cooperatives.
Agnes Uwamahoro, the president of COOPAV Mararo, one of the cooperatives in Kinigi benefiting from the investment, said that they have supplied seedlings of indigenous forest tree species to the nursery and bamboo seedlings.
“Our cooperative of 71 members originally used to trade in crafts, which we sell to visiting tourists. However, the coming of Singita brought an additional income generating avenue for our members that will ensure we stay in business for a long time to come. We are also getting a lot of knowledge and skills from Singita in maintaining the nursery,” she said.
By working with local communities to restore and maintain the biological integrity of the land in a sustainable manner, Singita is fulfilling the Rwandan government’s goal of conserving protected areas for future generations.
Conservation isn’t the only aspect Singita is involving the local communities in.
Claudine Tuyishime, the Conservation and Community Officer at Singita Rwanda said that the architects and interior designers of the properties are selecting locally sourced and produced materials for walling, ceilings and surface finishing.
This is in addition to the 500 jobs the people have kept over the two-year construction period that came with capacity building.
“The workers at the site have been taught different skills from brick-making to construction methods they didn’t know before,” says Tuyishime.
Singita is also involved in Corporate Social Responsibility projects in the area.
The company donated 100 school chairs and desks to Groupe Scolaire Kabara that have created a suitable learning environment for students.
The involvement of companies like Singita, who are able to support local government and communities by investing in ecotourism projects tat have meaningful impact in the region, is vital to the success of Rwanda’s conservation efforts.