Banda Village, Rwanda
Banda Village is a small and remote village on the periphery of Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwest Rwanda. The area contains one of the highest population densities in Rwanda, with approximately 500 people per square kilometer. When Kageno began its work here, the community was prone to a myriad of problems related to extreme poverty and Rwanda’s legacy of war and genocide. Over ninety percent of the population was engaged in subsistence farming, with land growing more and more scare. With no other employable skills and no more land to farm, new income earning opportunities for the people of Banda had run out. In addition, there was no access to clean drinking water, HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, and women and children suffered disproportionately as the number of AIDS orphans increased and local women struggled to find the means to care for them with no access to any health care facility.
These desperate conditions increase the demand for the resources of Nyungwe Forest, the largest remaining mid-altitude forest block in Africa and a crucial watershed that provides water to 70% of Rwanda. Many local people engage in activities such as illegal logging, mining, poaching, and marijuana growth. These activities threaten the long-term integrity of the forest and the natural resource-based livelihoods of the local population.
To date, Kageno has achieved the following in Banda Village, Rwanda:
- SPG architects completed designs of Kageno Rwanda buildings.
- Constructed a health center and pharmacy for Banda Village and the neighboring communities which currently servers more than 1000 individual a month.
- Constructed a Clean Water Project that brings clean drinking water to over 5,000 people in Banda Village.
- Completed Construction of the Banda Village Nursery School and Community Center.
- Initiated income-generating activities in partnership with USAID including a soap and candle making businesses and an educational village walk where tourists can participate in community development activities and learn about various traditional practices.
- Established an agricultural program to work with famers to improve their agricultural techniques, diversify their crops and increase their yields. In addition, framers are taught how to incorporate livestock, natural pesticides and compost into their farming practice.
Nyungwe Forest is an untapped source of income from eco-tourism. The numbers of unique bird species, primates, and flora/fauna in the forest are unrivaled in Central and East Africa, and by both protecting and opening this resource to eco-tourism, local Rwandan communities could realize foreign capital, subsequently protecting and improving Rwanda’s natural resources. While the project focuses on community development activities, it also seeks to include best practices of natural resource management in order to benefit both the human population and the biodiversity of Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Kageno is now seeking funds to launch an ecotourism initiative that will transform the Banda Village community while preserving this rare jewel. (for more information click here)