Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is Rwanda’s first uniquely community owned lodge and we know that in order to protect gorillas, you have to look after communities.
We know that in order to protect gorillas, we must also protect the communities that live around the park. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is Rwanda’s first community owned lodge. The idea for such a unique lodge was conceived in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation (“AWF”) and the International Gorilla Conservation Program (“IGCP”). The lodge is managed and operated by The Governors’ Camp Collection, however, its ownership lies in a Community Trust; SACOLA (Sabyinyo Community Livelihood Association). The trust was set up specifically to receive lease fees, and community development levies (paid by every guest each night), and to use these funds to drive socio-economic development and conservation initiatives in the Kinigi area, which is adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park in North-Western Rwanda.
These income streams have had a most positive impact on the lives of local people and gorilla conservation; they are both the driving force behind many local businesses and the construction of homes for needy families in the area. This special revenue-sharing model which sees the community directly benefiting from wildlife tourism and has been copied across many parts of Africa. Total revenue from the lodge is almost at US $4 million and has directly benefited some 6,000 households in the Kinigi District. In the 12 years since its inception, SACOLA’s programs have contributed in a meaningful way to the conservation and preservation of the endangered mountain gorilla and its fragile habitat. Special thanks must go to Tayside Associates LLC and the Rwanda Development Board who were also instrumental in getting this landmark project off the ground.
The SACOLA projects, after many years of successful operation, are now too multitudinous to list. They include numerous construction projects providing homes and villages for genocide survivors and facilities for the community such as electricity supply, schools, including 77 classrooms and assistance for school fees, construction and equipping schools with computer labs, distribution of water tanks in order to collect rain water from the roofs, water supply projects and the construction of roads, bridges and drainage systems.
Agricultural projects including the establishment of pig farming, distribution of thousands of chickens in the villages, poultry rearing projects, sheep farming and the support for the national ‘One Cow One Family’ project with the donation of hundreds of cows.
Micro financing, the creation and support for Sacco’s (local banking) help for beekeepers, local guides and the construction of walks, a Community Cultural Center and Avocado farming are but a few of the projects for assistance and development of the community.
Conservation is assisted by the planting of anti-erosion bamboo along natural waterways and the maintenance and reconstruction of the park boundary stone wall, guided walks and the introduction of numerous handicraft projects. The construction of a health center and payment of health insurance for poor and vulnerable village members continue. Single mothers were also assisted with sewing projects and the construction of ECDs (Early Childhood Development program) in two villages.
To find out more about SACOLA, please see https://www.sacola.co/