National parks’ communities benefit from sharing programs
On Friday, the Rwanda Development Board published the findings of an assessment of the Revenue Sharing, a program whereby RDB invests 5% of the yearly tourism revenue in infrastructures and projects benefiting to the population living in the vicinity of National Parks.
Dr Alfred R. Bizoza, a consultant who has done the research, said that the revenue-sharing program has indeed helped communities around the parks to get basic infrastructure.
According to Rica Rwigamba, RDB’s deputy CEO in charge of tourism and conservation, the disbursement made for the program last year was Frw 256 million, compared to Frw 41 million in 2005, adding that so far Frw 1.4 billion in total was spent on 220 projects.
The projects include basic infrastructure, classrooms, health centers, road rehabilitation, water supply, housing, agriculture, etc. According to John Mugabo, the mayor of Kayonza which has sectors neighboring Akagera National Park, there have been many benefits from Revenue sharing program.
“We have received Frw 46 million that helped in building schools in Murundi and Kabari sectors and a health center in Mwili where people used to walk 10 km to a nearest hospital. When we tell them that such infrastructures are from tourism revenues, they feel like they have to play their role in the conservation of the park”, Mugabo said.
One problem that still causes unease among these communities is that sometimes animals get out of the parks and ravage fields of crops, causing food insecurity in the sectors near the national parks.
In reply, Rwigamba reported that RDB will also contribute 5% of the yearly tourism revenue to a special guarantee fund where people can claim reparations for such cases.