Mozambique beach lodge accommodation

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Mozambique beach lodge accommodation

Environment

The Lodge was built using both local and conventional materials. As the Lodge is practically on the beach, we have had to use aluminium door and window frames, which are better at resisting the erosion from the sea air. However, we always strive to maximise the use of natural products. For example, beach umbrellas have been made using local thatch. the pathways are comprised of needles from the local casuarinha trees, coconut shells are used to serve welcome drinks to our guests and/to serve locally made jams on the breakfast table and the leaves of the coconuts are used to make rugs and/or door mats.

We have also adopted waste management policies aimed at preserving the environment. The general policy is to separate waste and recycle as much as possible. No waste is buried under ground. All waste is collected in a delegated area on the site and everything is re-used or recycled: food left-overs are either fed to the ducks and chickens or made into composte and used as fertiliser for growing vegetables; glass and tins are given to local people who recycle them for a range of different uses; paper and cardboard are also distributed to local people who use them as floors in their homes. In the case of plastic, this has to be incinerated as there is no municipal waste collection service.

Although recycling is limited by the lack of such facilities anywhere in the province, our efforts to separate and recycle waste, within the existing constraints, are helping to raise awareness among the local staff and population as the practice of recycling and waste separation is practically non-existent in this region.

Community

A key component of our Responsible Tourism policy is a firm commitment to local employment. Despite the very low basic schooling level of local residents, around 80 percent of our staff (currently 70 people) are from one of the two local communities. Our local employment policy is supported by a commitment to training, which includes hiring of external trainers, as well as intensive on-the-job training. Unlike most other tourist employers in the country, our commitment to local employment extends to more specialist fields, such as kayak guides, bar men/women and kitchen chefs. The basic minimum wage received by most staff is topped up by 2 daily meals, travel and electricity allowances (for those living in Lodge housing) and payment of a 13th salary in December. Staff loyalty and performance has also been rewarded with promotion and a salary increase in a number of cases.

In addition to full-time contractual employment, we also provide casual employment to approximately 10-20 local people on a month-by-month basis (mainly for gardening and landscape maintenance) and we strive to ensure a fair distribution of these employment opportunities among the members of different ethnic and religious communities in the locality and to encourage female, as well as male applicants for these positions.

Local sourcing and the promotion of local trading opportunities are another important part of our strategy for supporting local livelihoods. We buy fish from the local fishermen and any other local products available. Wherever possible, we employ local labour, such as carpenters, builders, tailors, boat drivers and local dance groups. As part of our RT policy, we are trying to support local arts and crafts, in particular those practised by women. This includes, for example, clay pottery, which is practised by some women in the local community. The Lodge has bought a large quantity of clay pots and vases produced by these women and these are on display in various parts of the Lodge and we are currently working to develop smaller models to be sold in the Lodge shop. More recently, we linked this initiative with another income-generating activity supported by the Lodge involving fruit conservation and encouraged the pottery women to make small clay pots as containers for home made jams produced by the other groups.

In addition, we encourage interaction between the guests and local communities. The Activities book on display at the Reception contains illustrated information about the history and culture of the local communities and encourages them to go on a guided walking tour of one or both of the communities linked to the Lodge. One of these is an island and guests can be taken by local canoes to the island and accompanied by local guides to various places of interest on the island. On these visits, guests have the opportunity to experience the African way of life and join in song and dances performed by local dance groups, who have an established relationship with the Lodge and are paid for this service. For many of our guests, these visits constitute a main highlight of their stay at the Lodge as evidenced by comments in the Guest book. We also promote mutual cultural exchanges, as occurred recently when a Zimbabwean theatre troupe did an artistic retreat at the Lodge and spent some time in the local villages interacting with the schoolchildren and performed scenes from some of their dramatic repertoire attended by community members of all ages.

Another way in which we are helping local communities, is by providing ongoing support and training for credit and savings groups. In the past, a national NGO had trained local credit and savings groups, but the NGO ceased to operate due to lack of funds. We were interested in this activity because, unlike other forms of charity, it is self-sustaining and therefore, more sustainable in the longer term. We recruited one of the former workers who had worked in the local community and she reconvened the groups, as well as setting up new groups in the second local community previously excluded. The Lodge owners raised money through various sources and injected initial capital to get the groups started. We also raised funds to carry out a 5-day training in basic business-management principles to enhance the commercial success of the small business start-ups undertaken by individuals and groups. Each year, this capital has grown on average 5% and, through external fundraising, we have been able to increase the capital to broaden the scope of the income-generating activities undertaken by group members. There are currently a total of 6 groups in both communities. The benefits to members are significant. Some have bought fishing nets providing income and employment to several households, many have bought a bicycle and in a few cases a motorbike, and almost all the beneficiaries have been able to make house improvements, pay their children's school fees, and school books, pay for further education, medicines, clothes, as well as caring for the many orphans in the community.

In 2013, the Lodge provided support and training for the establishment of two officially constituted Community Associations, including building materials and basic furniture for a meeting room at the headquarters of each community. Each Association has a constitution and bank account and is now able to engage in official trade with the Lodge and other parties. Association Members also contribute a small portion of their funds to a social fund to meet local community needs as determined by the members.

Other forms of social support provided to communities include: access to water from the Lodge wells, donations of clothes and school supplies, foot balls, gear and a football ground for local football teams. The Lodge has recently secured a donation to allow an abandoned house on the island to be converted to a health centre. This has been done in collaboration with the local government who have undertaken to provide a nurse and regular medical supplies.

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