Serengeti - Tanzania Grumeti - Tanzania

Singita is in partnership with the Grumeti Fund, which ensures that donations are channelled into communities adjacent to the reserves and into various conservation initiatives. The fund’s Community Partnership Programme team, supported by Singita, has invested time, commitment, energy and expertise to support community projects in the Serengeti and Bunda districts.

Initiatives include providing access to fresh water, support for small agricultural businesses and various education and farming projects. A core programme, requested by local communities during the early days of involvement in the area, was the provision of clean, drinking water. Today, 36 boreholes provide fresh water for household use and are in the process of being handed over to the communities for their management. Going forward, the Grumeti Fund and Singita aim to focus on more modern approaches to water management, such as rain-water harvesting and the protection of natural springs.

Adult education has been a key focus, with an emphasis on training and support for small agricultural businesses. These enterprises include vegetable gardens, a nursery, sunflower-oil production, fish and pig farming, poultry projects, egg production, bee-keeping and the growing of cash crops. This is helping to create self-sustaining jobs, provide alternative sources of protein and ensure the existence of model small businesses which can be replicated within local communities.

Education

Singita Grumeti invests heavily in the education of local youth. Its scholarship fund has enabled hundreds of young people to complete their schooling, as well as tertiary-level diplomas and degrees.

In addition, the new Singita Serengeti School of Cooking provides aspiring young chefs from local communities with quality education in the art of preparing food. The programme enables them to commence their careers at commis-chef level in one of Singita’s kitchens or elsewhere in Tanzania.

Environmental awareness

Singita’s commitment to conservation, development and community outreach comes together in the creation of the Singita Environmental Educational Centre. This centre offers top learners from local secondary schools a sound understanding of the Serengeti ecosystem. The objective of the programme is to educate local youth about the importance of the reserve and the role each of them can play in protecting wildlife.

The centre serves to engage and educate the community’s next generation of leaders on the importance of a balanced, sustainable ecosystem. It is dedicated to teaching students in their penultimate year and instilling in them an appreciation and understanding of this unique region. The centre also provides education on wildlife and environmental conservation and the reasons for creating ‘protected areas’, as well as general, local and global environmental issues.

The Environmental Education Centre holds approximately 25 week-long courses each year. These are attended by 288 youths from 12 secondary schools in the Bundu and Serengeti districts, which border Singita Grumeti. The content of the course is aligned with the school curriculum and, as such, enables the learners to be better prepared for their formal education. Knowledge shared includes soil and vegetation usage and management, the importance of water conservation, understanding the Serengeti ecosystem, forest conservation and wildlife management, especially law enforcement in protected areas in Tanzania.

The centre also includes two teachers from each school in its five-day, on-site programmes in order to help them better educate their students about these crucial topics. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem and its rich biodiversity, it is essential that the local communities be empowered and engaged in conservation. The Environmental Education Centre ensures that local people are being brought into conversation at an early age and helps create well-informed and responsible decision-makers for future generations.

In addition, post-training activities led by students who attend the Environmental Education Centre include small-scale tree nurseries which are helping the conservation clubs known as Malihai to green their schools, essay and debating competitions, fine-art competitions, waste management and a Malihai conference where youths have an opportunity to learn from each other and listen to presentations from other organisations and local government.

Enterprise development

Small and medium enterprise development is supported by the Grumeti Fund in order to boost the local economy, with benefits flowing to the wider community. With Singita and other local lodges providing a reliable market for these products and services, there are plenty of business opportunities in surrounding communities.

Adult education is a key focus, with emphasis on support for small agricultural businesses. These include vegetable gardens, poultry projects and egg production, sunflower seeds, fish ponds and pig farming. These not only create self-sustaining businesses, but also serve to provide alternative sources of protein (which help to play a role in eradicating poaching).

Bee-keeping

Singita Grumeti has provided support, including funding and training, for the establishment of a bee-keeping industry in the region. Currently, 900 participants produce high-quality honey which is sold to local communities.

Bee-keeping is both an income generator and good for conservation as it helps prevent deforestation and mitigates human–wildlife conflict due to the fact that elephants are not partial to bees!

The farmers’ cooperative at Singita Grumeti

One of the most successful community development projects at Singita Grumeti is the Grumeti Horticultural and Marketing Co-op Society (GHOMACOS). Launched in 2010 with a handful of vegetable farmers and an annual turnover of around $74 000, today its membership has grown to 53 small agricultural businesses in eight local villages. Its volume of business has risen dramatically: turnover in 2014 was up to $266 834. Not only does this venture keep the staff and lodge kitchens amply supplied, it’s stimulated the local economy and provided self-sustaining jobs. From a conservation perspective, it has reduced the community’s reliance on bush meat and illegal hunting by providing alternative sources of food for families.

GHOMACOS members are predominantly fruit and vegetable farmers, but also include pig, cattle and poultry farmers, egg producers and bee-keepers. Since the aim of GHOMACOS is to be as independent and sustainable as possible, the support and training of its members includes all aspects of agricultural production, from providing good seeds and farming techniques to teaching them about quality, packaging, hygiene and timely deliveries.

For these rural communities, the gradual shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial farming has been life changing. Over the past six years, not only has the quality and consistency of produce improved to meet the high standards demanded by Singita Grumeti, but the variety has increased to an impressive 60 types of fruits, vegetables and herbs.