Ecotourism creates new jobs and promote local economy

John Steve Okumu, Guide, Dunga Beach

Capacity building and new skills among fishermen at Dunga Beach by Lake Victoria create new links between the community and the tourists, thus forming a basis for local business and development.

John Steve Okumu, 29, is a former fisherman who is now youth director and one of the tour guides in Dunga Beach, part of the Mistra Urban Futures Ecotourism project. We asked him to describe his work and the effects of the KLIP projects in his home village.

Q: What do you do as a tour guide at Dunga Beach?

A: We provide information to local and international tourists on biodiversity, bird watching, game rides, Lake Victoria, hippos, sportfishing … and we connect the tourists to the community while they are here.

The project affects both myself and the local community positively. The local community creates products made from water hyacinth, and they get economic empowerment by selling their wares. The community gains when tourists enjoy local delicacies like fish and local beers.

Q: Why did you decide to do this kind of work?

A: Fishing in Lake Victoria is small, seasonal and sometimes the catch is so horrible – you come out from the lake without fish, cast the net and then come back with nothing. It’s a very, very hard life. In Dunga community, 85% depend directly on fishing activity.

The KLIP initiated a research study at Dunga Beach and we started to experience some development in the course of the study – trickling down in capacity building. This influenced me and my colleagues to get involved. With the risk involved in fishing, bad weather and bad fishing gear, I decided to diversify. I am more interested in learning a lot of things from different people, with different backgrounds from different cultures.

Q: How has Ecotourism and the KLIP program helped?

A: Initially, we were working without training and skills. Even before the KLIP came, tourists used to come to Dunga Beach to take photos. Then KLIP started its research projects and it was a different experience: The KLIP team and some visitors from different countries came and the community saw them interacting directly with community people.

Now Dunga is a place with different businesses. The tour guides link the tourists and the local community people. It becomes more interesting for buying products. Visitors come and they feel part of the community, do activities with the community. We like to do the marketing in whatever we are doing.

The work KLIP is doing in the community is a great change. In some years, we can move on on our own. It’s better for someone to show you how to fish than give you fish every day.

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