The Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board Ms. Rica Rwigamba, has in a statement released yesterday underscored how over 1.4 billion Rwanda Francs was spent during the past 8 years in support of community based projects for the provision of water, sanitation, schools and other social amenities.
By law RDB is required to give back a 5 percent revenue share to the communities neighbouring the currently three national parks of Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Akagera and according to Rica over 220 projects have since the inception of the scheme been financed and completed. The annual disbursement grew from an initial RWF 41 million in 2005 to RWF 256 million this year, as arrivals to Rwanda grew to 908.000 visitors in 2011, generating an estimated gross revenue of US Dollars 252 million for the country.
She also attributed the schemes benefits to a significant reduction of poaching and encroachment of parks as the communities now act as watch dogs besides the rangers and wardens to keep the gorillas and national parks safe. In Akagera in particular the communities are now protected by an electric fence from straying animals which in the past not only raided farms but also destroyed other property and caused injuries and loss of life.
The annual naming of young born gorillas, Kwita Izina, will be held this year on June 16th outside Ruhengeri / Musanze at the park head quarters, preceded as every year by a number of community based activities, bringing the spotlight once again to The Land of A Thousand Hills where conservation is not just preached but actively practiced across the land.