Community Development

The livelihoods of thousands of people rely on the natural resources provided by Bazaruto’s vulnerable ecosystems. Three of the islands are permanently inhabited by some 7,000 local people, governed through traditional councils and relying on the area’s marine resources for subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing. Community development includes engaging with the community, environmental education and sustainable enterprise development, ensuring that local communities benefit from and support the preservation of this archipelago. Developing sustainable tourism initiatives is simultaneously contributing to job creation and local revenue streams are being managed to retain the park’s ecological integrity. These efforts are all contributing and are testament to the significance of inclusive community development in safeguarding Bazaruto’s biodiversity.

Community Engagement

Community meeting with the Bazaruto team to raise environmental awareness around the archipelago ©Jeremy Hu

African Parks’ community engagement programme has built a firm foundation on which the relationship between the local communities and park management can thrive. Frequent community engagement meetings are held with local people, and a Community Development Strategy has been developed with the participation of key stakeholders, including community representatives.

Education and Environmental Awareness

African Parks continues to provide educational opportunities that support economic and social transformation while raising environmental awareness. The provision of school facilities and learning materials assists many community members to become employable in the workplace. The park has extended its school support to the mainland districts of Vilankulo and Inhassoro, securing education for hundreds of schoolchildren, including almost a thousand scholarships awarded to date. There are currently eight environmental clubs, with more being added each year.

Sustainable Enterprise Development

Community members involved in a plastic clean-up programme around Bazaruto ©Adam Rabinowitz

Enterprise development is being achieved through the growth of the sustainable tourism industry in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, not only creating jobs but also stimulating the local economy. The park contributes 20% annually of all tourism revenue to local communities through their respective councils to support projects that benefit the community as a whole.

By partnering with local communities, park management aims to better understand their needs, and support local economies to alleviate pressure from unsustainable fisheries on marine biodiversity. These efforts include looking at new sustainable fishing techniques that are less destructive than seine netting; these have been well received by the community.

Income-generating projects, such as conservation agriculture, provide an alternative to dependence on the park’s resources. To assist this, a community training centre has been built on Bazaruto Island, where young people are trained in key vocational skills and tourism-related courses. The centre also operates as a bakery where graduates of the hospitality programme run a business to supply bread to the community.

With the support of local tourism lodges, young people are being trained in vocational skills and courses in housekeeping, service, and refrigeration. Six conservation agriculture groups have been created, their members receiving training in natural pesticide production, food production and nutrition. Others have been trained in the production of high-quality handcrafts made of natural material from the islands.

Community Infrastructure Development

The safe and sustainable disposal of refuse is an ongoing project, which employs over 50 refuse collectors across the islands. Over 150 tonnes of refuse have been removed yearly since the start of the project, with 80% recycled via a recycling company and through the manufacture of paving blocks at park headquarters. To date, some 43,000 paving blocks have been produced from collected refuse.

The same team participates in other conservation activities, including tree planting of hundreds of trees a year to re-establish deforested areas.