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Serengeti investor speeds up social and economic development

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Details:Written by MUGINI JACOB in Serengeti





SAKWASA luxury lodge is one of the Grumeti properties that support the people of Makundusi Village in Serengeti.













MAKUNDUSI village found in Serengeti District in Mara Region has registered admirable success in social and economic development.

It is one of the villages located near the concession areas operated by Singita Grumeti Reserves Limited (SGR), operators of luxurious and exclusive lodges namely Sasakwa, Farufaru and Sabora which were ranked first in the world for 2011 from 100 best hotels and lodges in the world.

The concession areas operated by Paul Tudor Jones (PTJ) an American are Ikorongo, Grumeti and Ikoma, all bordering Serengeti National Park. Local leaders are happy with the US investor, who according to them plays a significant role in speeding up social and economic development.

It is estimated the village has so far received 133,385,500/- between 2005 and 2010, according to official figures. "The income we get from the investor is what we use for the developing the village like the construction of classrooms and even buying chalk for schools," said Makundusi Village Executive Officer (VEO), Mr Juma Wambura.

The village has built two new public primary schools that accommodate hundreds of pupils with the support they get from the investor. The schools are Kewambogo and Makundusi. Now the village has three public schools that has reduced overcrowding.

"The schools have been registered by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and pupils can now study up to standard five," says Natta Wards Councillor, Mr Jumanne Kwiro.

The current Makundusi village chairman, Mr Juma Porini says the village has made significant strides in the areas of education during the year."We built three classrooms at Kewambogo, Makundusi and Nyaketono at the cost of 45mil/- from the money we get from Grumeti”, Mr. Porini said.

"We spent 32 million to build a modern teachers' houses and one more teachers' house is under construction at Kewambogo Primary School," Mr Porini said. The village has initiated a sponsorship scheme for student who qualify to join secondary schools. "We are the only village in Serengeti sponsoring secondary school students," Mr Porini said.

Presently, there are 39 students benefiting from the sponsorship scheme, but the number is expected to rise early next year, he said. Mr Kwiro said the village has sponsored three students to pursue higher education on different disciplines at various universities in the country.

"We used part of the money to send over 16 youths to the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) to learn various trades." Apart from education, the village has also invested in health services.

According to Wambura, the village has built a dispensary that is a big relief for pregnant women and children under the age of five. The established dispensary has helped to cut down maternal deaths in the village. The purchase a vehicle that ferries patients to different health facilities has assisted a lot.

On the whole, Makundusi village is estimated to have 700 households (kaya) and a population of 5,000 people at the moment, according to Wambura. In the past the majority of the villagers relied on poaching as their major source of income but they now engage on livestock keeping, farming and small scale economic activities.

A land survey was conducted for all households in the village. "The aim of the land survey was to enable people obtain traditional title deeds. The exercise was carried by government land experts and land for over 350 households was surveyed. So far 50 of them have received title deeds," Mr Kwiro elaborates.

SGR has set up three luxurious hotels that attract high paying clients. The lodges are Sasakwa, Sabora and Farufaru.Richard Ndaskoi, the company Outreach Programme Co-ordinator said Sasakwa Lodge is located on land that was owned by Makundusi village.

"SGR needed to secure the land for photographic tourism and thus we entered into agreements with Makundusi village," he added. Statutory payments, he said, are deposited directly to Makundusi village bank accounts.

"Development assistance is paid through Community Outreach Programme in terms of financing projects in the villages or payments to specific beneficiaries like students sponsorships.

At times we also provide humanitarian aid to," the company official said. Currently, the company sponsors 59 students hailing from Serengeti and Bunda districts in the country and abroad for further education. Visitors to the up-market lodges make donations towards community development projects in the neighbouring villages.

For instance, recently an American visitor, Prof Kimberly Moss and his wife Franklin donated 12 new laptops worth 17mil/- to the neighbouring Natta community ward secondary school, which was earlier this year upgraded into a high school.

The Serengeti District Council senior education officials welcomed the donation, saying that the computers will play a crucial role in improving learning amongst the students."It is my hope that if used well these computers will ease teaching," Serengeti District Secondary Education Academic Officer, Mr Martin Nkwabi said.

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It's nice to see such encouraging news.

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