People living in the environs of the Volcanoes National Park in Musanze District have hailed the annual Kwita-Izina event, saying it has greatly contributed to the improvement of their lives.
They said this on Wednesday during the inauguration of Bisate Learning Centre complete with a library and computer lab at Bisate Primary and Secondary School in Kinigi Sector.
The facility’s inauguration is part of activities organised ahead of today’s gorilla naming ceremony, ‘Kwita Izina’ in Kinigi.
It was set up through a joint effort between Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International at a tune of Rwf43 million, according to officials.
Residents said that the facility and other infrastructure projects which were put in place around the area are a clear proof that ‘Kwita Izina’ event has a positive impact on them and are hopeful that the future will be bright ,thanks to the ongoing efforts to conserve the mountain gorillas and the other wildlife in the park.
Students and school authorities also welcomed the new facility saying it will help improve their ICT skills while the library will help them develop a culture of reading and improve their knowledge in various domains.
Dative Uwingeneye, a resident in Bisate Cell in Kinigi Sector said that since ‘Kwita Izina’ was introduced, a lot has changed, schools were built; we received clean water while farmers and artists have been supported in various projects.
“We are grateful for this event and having, in our midst, gorillas and the entire wildlife.
‘‘Through revenue sharing we now have schools here and our children no longer walk long distances as they used to,” said Uwingeneye.
“One of the schools was built by RDB and it’s partners and we are grateful that the school was also equipped with a computer lab and library. We have clean water, thanks to RDB and most of us are supported through various cooperatives,” she added.
As part of the efforts to involve communities around parks in conservation, RDB resolved to plough back into the communities five per cent of the proceeds from tourism.
Denise Umutoniwase 16, a S2 student, said she was happy that the school now has an ICT lab and a library.
“I am hopeful that in a few days I will be able to navigate everything on the internet. This will make me be competent just as the girls in urban areas,” said Umutoniwase.
According to Prosper Uwingeri, the chief warden of the Volcanoes National Park, many projects which benefit communities around the park were implemented through revenue sharing and working with partners in tourism and conservation sector.
He said that more classrooms were constructed while clean water was distributed. Other projects included supporting vulnerable people through building them houses. Farmers and artists were also encouraged to join cooperatives and given financial support.
Over Rwf800 million has so far been spent on the community projects.
The Northern Province governor, Aime Bosenibamwe, urged residents and the school authorities to take care of the facility and ensure they put it to good use.
He said the new facility will be equipped with internet in the near future to help the school and the community around get access to online information.
Bosenibamwe reiterated the government’s commitment to continue supporting the communities around the park.
Because of the revenue-sharing scheme, Bosenibamwe said that former poachers have now become key partners in the conservation efforts with some going on to serve as gorilla trackers while others are porters.
Today, 24 gorillas will be named.