Who They Are
Meno A Kwena Tented Camp is a great old-style safari camp with 16 beds, run by David Dugmore, an expert with a real passion for Botswana’s bush. The camp is situated on tribal land on a cliff edge overlooking what since 1993 was the dry bed of the Boteti River, but started flowing again in 2008. The accommodation here doesn’t aim to be palatial, although royalty have been known to stay.
What They Are Doing
Meno A Kwena Tented Camp initiated the Water for Life Trust to coordinate its sustainable tourism developments, community involvement, and wildlife conservation projects.
Formerly a mobile camp, soon after Meno A Kwena set up at a permanent site it became obvious there was a conflict between livestock and wildlife, particularly grazers such as zebra and wildebeest, all looking for limited water. This necessitated the provision of water pumped from the ground to supplement national park efforts after the Boteti River stopped flowing. During the dry season, some 100,000 liters of water a day is pumped for the animals. Water was provided for six years until the Boteti flowed again in 2008. The trust has also assisted the national park with fire management and control, and park boundary fence management and maintenance.
Meno A Kweno has identified opportunities to support the local community in the form of vegetable farming, transportation, traditional building materials, arts and crafts production, and traditional furniture building to develop the camp and to sell to tourists. A workshop has been set up by the main gate allowing local craftsmen a place to create and sell curios and furniture directly to guests.
The lodge’s 30 employees are all locals, and it is a major employer to thenearest village of 1,000 people. Meno A Kweno prides itself on paying relatively higher wages than the standard for unskilled labor in the industry. It also has an open-door policy encouraging locals to visit and experience just what entices tourism to this area and why it is important for conservation. An exciting “event” is when the local headman and his wife visit for high tea!
Meno A Kweno supports the primary school at Moreomaoto Village (13 kilometers away) with its environmental education and assisting with fund-raising for school materials. The school now has a computer, which the children use for research and to watch educational DVDs. Meno A Kwena provides transportation for the school’s dance group to and from nearby venues. It has also started community projects that include producing jewelry from recycled paper, as well instructing primary school children to play traditional musical instruments.
Water for Life encourages volunteers to get involved. This exposes rural communities to foreigners in a different way to guest/staff or employee/employer relations. Volunteers assist with wildlife management and community involvement projects. They have to raise their own fees so that they do not take employment opportunities away from citizens; in fact, some of their fees go towards creating local employment.
In Their Own Words
“Our future plans are to use Meno A Kwena Tented Camp as a model for new sustainable tourism development in areas where human/wildlife conflict occurs on the boundaries of protected wildlife sanctuaries.”