Thursday, October 12, 2006

How I make a living

The best thing about my job is the fieldwork. I just had an extremely satisfying visit to one of my community tourism projects in Namau/Namave village, 100kms by road (you have to go right around Pemba bay, which is the third-largest in the world), maybe 20km as the crow flies, from Pemba, inside the Quirimbas National Park (QNP). Namave is a little village of fishermen and farmers, pretty much typical of the area. It is situated on a large river-mouth, lined by mangrove trees. Nearby are beaches where marine turtles nest. 5km outside the village is an old sisal plantation, owned by Meco, whose grandfather worked there in the colonial era. Meco is an ex-hunter and livestock farmer who is rehabilitating the owner’s house for tourists, has discussed offering various excursions and activities with the villagers, and then approached the QNP about supporting his initiative. Which is where I come in.

My job is to set up and promote 8 community tourism projects in different parts of the park over three years (if they renew my one-year contract in December. I think they will, at least I haven’t seen the position advertised yet!). This year I have to have two up and running. One is a homestay project on Ibo island (more on this next week after I visit it), the other is Namave.

Namave has lots going for it – a great setting, a tourism initiative already on the go, proximity to Pemba, a community already interested, a contact person – Meco – who is very capable, speaks English and is very enthusiastic, and cell phone reception. This last element is extremely helpful for making bookings and warning the community that tourists are coming. So far so good. Of course, the village has never, ever received tourists. ( I lie, I took a friend with me last time, she was the first.) They have no experience of running activities. They speak no English and many speak no Portuguese (especially the women). They expect a lot (a school, a hospital, a well) and think the QNP will provide these things. They are very poor, and have never handled a community fund, which will be created by the project. They are also friendly, welcoming, and keen, if a little sceptical. They’ve been promised things before, they have yet to see anything happen. My challenge is to get this project organised, get them committed and involved, but also manage their expectations, as they will hardly be making a fortune to start with. I have to help them set up a community body that will receive and manage community funds, in a transparent and accountable way. I have to consider social impacts, environmental impacts, economic impacts, exclusion, inclusion, confusion. Here’s the crunch – I have never done this before. I really hope I can do it. The head of WWF in Mozambique – to whom I am contracted – really put me at ease with this email some months back: “Community tourism in the QNP has to be our biggest success story ever. And soon.” No pressure then.


At 9:16 pm, Anonymous emma Grant said...

what an unbelievable job. enviro-developmental guru and super-mum buggy pusher. you make us paper pushers feel like there might be light outside the tunnel-visioned world of the office... keep us posted.
(on a more technical note, would be interesting to gauge impact on community social capital of the tourism project. masses of social impact analysis literature in DFID - let me know if you would like to be buried in paper.)
good luck with it all Becs, you're doing amazing work

At 7:59 am, Blogger JoPaulo Pinto said...

Hi, I was very impressed by this article you wrote. I'm planning a trip to northern Moz. I was born in Moz and grew up mostly in Zim. I have been living in the USA for the last 10 years and would love to backpack around and close to the coast of Cabo Delgado region. Any ideas on where to stay that would benefit the locals and their community along way and during my trip? Your advice would be appreciated :)


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