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The construction of the Chemucane community lodge in Maputo Special Reserve, featuring nine exclusive guest suites, with two family and seven double-bedded units, is well under way.
This follows on the Ahi Zameni Chemucane, a community association representing 850 people from three rural Mozambican communities, signing a 25-year partnership agreement with the Bell Foundation to develop a luxury ecotourist lodge in the northern section of Maputo Special Reserve on 25 March 2011. This landmark agreement marked the first time that a Mozambican community received long-term concession rights to a prime tourism site in a major nature reserve.
Bordering the Indian Ocean, the reserve offers tourists a varied experience of beaches, bays, coral reefs, sand forests, savannas, lakes, rivers, and a host of wildlife, including an estimated 350 elephants.
In 2005, the Mozambican government requested Peace Parks Foundation to assist it with its community development strategy in the Matutuine District, with the technical and professional training of the community members as one of the goals. Peace Parks Foundation appointed a community development technical adviser to implement the strategy, which aims to bring about the sustainable economic development of and benefit-sharing by communities living in and around Maputo Special Reserve through a consultative and participatory process that will also develop nature-based tourism and conservation enterprises.
As part of this strategy, Peace Parks Foundation assisted the communities with the creation of a community legal entity and with the tender process for the ecotourist lodge development. Companhia de Turismo de Chemucane, a joint venture company encompassing the community and the Bell Foundation was established on 20 December 2011 to make funding available for the development of the lodge. The community received $500 000 from the World Bank and a $500 000 interest-free loan from the Ford Foundation, via the African Safari Foundation. All of which enabled the Ahi Zameni Chemucane to obtain a 40% share in the joint venture.
An environmental and social impact assessment for the Chemucane ecotourist lodge was subsequently approved and construction got under way. The construction phase will last eight months and should be completed by December 2013. Two store rooms, a staff kitchen, staff accommodation, a staff room, an office laundry and a linen room are already in the final stages of completion.
Aside from the construction, two boreholes have also been sunk to produce potable water.
In anticipation of hosting guests, two women from Chemucane have undergone training in hospitality and tourism at the SA College for Tourism in Graaff Reinet in 2012 and another 12 are presently undergoing training.
The community will benefit from the lodge, as it is expected to create at least 60 full time jobs and the tourists staying there will help spur local growth in an area that has few opportunities for formal employment. For more information, visit this website