There are more than 300,000 people living in the vicinity of Akagera, and working with surrounding communities is critical to both Akagera’s long-term viability and local livelihoods.
Helping to educate local school children on the importance of biodiversity is critical to creating a constituency for conservation. Akagera has hosted regular environmental education awareness sessions that have reached as many as 2,000 school children and hundreds of local educators and leaders.
We have completed a variety of infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life for local communities. Such projects include: constructing social infrastructure (schools, health centres, and libraries); building water provision sites; and helping develop local associations and small enterprises.
When African Parks began managing Akagera in 2010, the park employed 59 employees. In 2019, Akagera’s staff force had increased to 273, with the vast majority of staff originating from local communities. The park ensures that surrounding communities experience the tangible benefits of its existence through the injection of funds into local economies via park staff salaries as well as the purchasing of local materials and services. By strengthening community ties, we ensure the park’s long-term sustainability.
As Akagera’s tourism offerings continue to grow exponentially, the park is focused on ensuring that the wider community benefit from the park’s ongoing success. A significant percentage of park funds is invested in local communities on an annual basis through locally hired staff salaries as well as the purchase of materials and services from vendors in surrounding communities. This not only builds local economies but also ensures the park’s long-term sustainability as communities experience the tangible benefits of the park’s existence.
Under the Rwanda Development Board’s revenue sharing scheme, local communities receive 5% of the total revenue generated by the country’s three national parks (Akagera, Volcanoes, and Nyungwe National Parks). However, individuals living in the areas surrounding Akagera receive 30% of these shared revenues.
Five percent of total park revenue is allocated to the Special Guarantee Fund, which the Rwandan Government established to compensate community members who suffer losses from human-wildlife conflict. Although human-wildlife conflict has significantly declined since Akagera completed its government-funded western boundary fence in 2013, incidents still occur within communities located on the park’s periphery.
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