By Ange Aduhire
On the 30th November 2020, the Tourism Revenue Sharing programme internship journey commenced for four ALU students: Mugabe Christian, Wassa N’django Cisse, Vandy Amos Saati and myself; Ange Christelle Aduhire. Together with our supervisors, we got to tour three of the four provinces of Rwanda and to interviewed over 300 local citizens living near the National parks of Nyungwe, Volcanoes and Akagera on their perspective about the Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) programme
About The Tourism Revenue Sharing Programme
The Rwanda Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) programme was introduced with the aim to share a percentage (currently 10%) of the total tourism park revenues with the communities living around the parks, not only to encourage both environmental and wildlife conservation but also to give back to the communities living near parks, who are socially and economically impacted by wildlife and all touristic endeavours in general. The goal of the research was to collect data from three different groups of stakeholders: Community Based Organization (CBO) members, Non- Community-Based Organization members (NCBO), and the Local Leaders (LL) on how the TRS has either funded their cooperative projects or funded other sustainable community development projects, and their general opinions of the TRS programme. The findings of our research will provide RDB with accurate evidence of the impact of the TRS as well as recommendations for improving the policy based on the data collected.
Being the only International Business and Trade (IBT) student among conservation scholars, I was thrilled to discover more about what I could offer back to nature and most especially my community. It was fascinating on our first day to see that Nyungwe’s local community had created a chant on how they appreciated the beauty of the park and their dedication to conserving it. This start-off gave us insight as to how much the work we were to do was of great importance. Our work would not only enhance their conservation motive but also contribute to finding a common ground between local citizens and wildlife. Every single member of our team was dedicated to collecting accurate data that would aid RDB to review the programme and make the necessary adjustments.
As a Rwandan, I was also amazed by how much I had not seen of my own country. Most of the time when we think of the unforgettable nature trips, we always think of going outside the border of the country. Nyungwe’s misty mountain trails, the Mountain Monkeys that casually sit on the roads and don’t fear cars passing by, (because they are home and we are invading) Akagera’s diverse bird species and predators, and Mount Bisoke ‘s crater lakes are just some of the most dreamy nature trips that there can be.
This journey not only allowed us to connect with nature, but to also work in a very conducive environment with very compassionate teammates who treated each and everyone they met with respect, and who encouraged one another at all times. We created a strong bond both as workmates but also on a personal level. There was no better way to end this trip than at a bonfire discussing our dreams for the future but also the new things we had learned about each other. I personally confirm this was one of my best work experiences.
Views from the other research interns:
Wassa Cisse: “I am truly grateful to have gotten the chance to visit these amazing natural treasures, but above all being part of the research that might actually positively impact the lives of thousands.”
Ange Aduhire: “ It is fascinating how much the wildlife can tell you about the tale of life. This was one of the best ways I could spend my birthday!”
Vandy Amos: “A conducive and work-friendly environment greatly helps in work performance. At Akagera, Nyunge and Musanze, the research team didn’t just focus on physical comfort, but rather to be part of a community so we can understand current happenings in the community and learn new things. Thanks to our line-manager Dr Sue Synman, we stayed in a fancy campsite and hotels that had an amazing bonfire at night and great views. At Akagera, we had a bonfire and during the bonfire, we got to know each other very well. Yes, we have studied together for three years, but we have never had the opportunity to discuss in-depth about our personal and professional lives.”
Mugabe Christian: “During this internship, I was so happy not only to contribute to the Tourism Revenue Sharing Program through primary data collection but to also engage with the people around the three national parks. I loved that I travelled to different corners of the country, and there were so many stories to tell about how the parks had contributed to the people’s ways of living.”
This research was conducted in partnership with Conservation Capital (CC), supported by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), with funding from SIDA and WWF Sweden.