Helping to educate local schoolchildren on the importance of biodiversity is critical to creating a constituency for conservation. Regular environmental educational awareness sessions have been held in the park, with well over 1,300 students from schools visiting Akagera each year along with local leaders and educators.
From just 59 employees prior to 2010, Akagera’s staff force has more than tripled over the years, with the vast majority coming from local communities. In addition, a significant amount is spent annually on locally-hired staff salaries and the purchase of local materials and services,strengthening community ties which is essential for the park’s long-term sustainability.
Funds go towards infrastructure projects that have greatly improved the quality of life for surrounding communities, from the construction of social infrastructure (schools, health centres and libraries), and water provision sites, to the development of local associations and small enterprises.
Sharing Revenue with Local Communities
The Rwanda Development Board’s revenue sharing scheme sees 5% of the total revenue generated by its three national parks (Akagera, Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks) shared with local communities. Those living in the areas surrounding Akagera receive 30% of these shared revenues.
As the tourism offering expands, so too will employment opportunities, but it is equally important to ensure that the wider community benefits from the ongoing conservation of Akagera, beyond those directly employed by the park. A significant amount is spent on locally-hired staff salaries and the purchase of local materials and services.