Volcanoes Safaris and DEG Covid relief project – press release 24 February 2021

Volcanoes Safaris and DEG partnership for Covid-19 healthcare and training to support job security, conservation and communities in Rwanda and Uganda

Volcanoes Safaris and DEG are pleased to announce a joint partnership to provide Covid-19 healthcare and training to support job security, conservation and communities in Rwanda and Uganda.

The partnership aims to provide: Covid-19 infection prevention training and protective equipment; provision of agricultural assistance and food donations; hospitality training; and support for community and conservation projects.

The communities surrounding national parks are some of the most disadvantaged and poor communities in the region. They have been disproportionally affected in economic and social terms by the negative impact of Covid-19.

The project will provide up to 12,000 beneficiaries with training on health and safety procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as well as personal protective equipment including facemasks, soap and sanitizer, and portable hand washing facilities. Beneficiaries will receive emergency food donations and assistance with growing crops. Those households with greatest water shortages will receive a 1,000L water tank to harvest rainwater.

A key objective of this project is to secure and continue existing community and conservation projects surrounding Volcanoes Safaris lodges. These include Bwindi Bar hospitality training program, which provides practical training for local disadvantaged youths living near Bwindi National Park. The hospitality training will be able be expanded to all 4 VS lodges. The Kyambura Womens’ Coffee Cooperative will also be supported and will aim to recruit another 10 members and increase the number of coffee plants by 25%.

Volcanoes Safaris’ General Manager Kevin James said: “A significant number of the full time Volcanoes lodge staff will be re-deployed from their work in hospitality to working with community and conservation projects.

In total we aim to support about 12,000 beneficiaries (2,000 households) in the communities surrounding each of the 4 lodges. This project support will last for 4 months initially. Thank you to DEG and all Volcanoes Safaris staff for their support and hard work on this project, which will bring significant benefit to many people who have been negatively impacted by Covid-19”.

Background on the Project:

Due to the significant decline of tourism in Uganda and Rwanda as a result of the Covid-19 crisis the economic livelihood of communities are much reduced. Visitors to national parks and guests staying at lodges have decreased substantially. Many Volcanoes Safaris community and conservation projects funded through tourism income and contributions from Volcanoes Safaris have had to close.

Against this background the partnership seeks to address the decline of income loss in communities by supporting community and conservation projects. It also supports Covid-19 protection measures. This support will help the subsistence of these marginalised communities and protect the main basis of their livelihoods, Uganda and Rwanda’s unique wildlife; especially the great apes, which are now under increased threat of poaching and habitat destruction.

About Volcanoes Safaris:

Volcanoes Safaris has been at the forefront of reviving gorilla and chimpanzee tourism in the region since 1997. Today, Volcanoes Safaris is recognized as the leader in great ape tourism specializing in mountain gorilla and chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda and Uganda. With four eco- luxury safari lodges, all renovated in 2018 and 2019, guests can enjoy all the highlights of Uganda and Rwanda in comfort and style while primate trekking through East Africa. Guests can also experience and participate in the eco-tourism and conservation projects with the local communities, developed by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT).

About DEG:

Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH (DEG) is a financial institution incorporated in Germany and has co-financed this project, which supports disadvantaged communities affected by Covid-19, from public funds of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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For more information, contact our project manager Kevin James and our media contact Alexandra Avila.