Inauguration of the “Utalii Kwetu programme” for sustainable tourism and nature conservation in DR Congo
Under the initiative of Kwafrika Travel SARL, the Utalii Kwetu Program was launched in Goma by the Vice-Governor of North Kivu Province, Major General Romy EKUKA. “Utalii Kwetu” means “Tourism At Home”.
Goma Serena Hotels (February 26, 2022)
Working for the promotion of tourism and nature conservation from our essence, Kwafrika Travel has come together with another tour operator in eastern Congo to face the many difficulties they face. These difficulties are linked to the destruction of ecosystems (heavy poaching in national parks, deforestation, dispossession of protected areas) resulting from a lack of effective education without which there will be no protection of the environment, therefore there would be no sustainable tourism.
Presentation of Kwafrika Travel and its involvement in the Utalii Kwetu program
Aware of what eco-tourism represents for the development of the DRC, the company Kwafrika Travel, champion of green tourism in the Democratic Republic of Congo is proud to be among the two initiators of the Utalii Kwetu Program. Since our creation 4 years ago, we had resolved to invest 20% of our profits on behalf of projects for the benefit of populations around protected areas for sustainable tourism. From the idea phase to the finalization of the design of the Utalii Kwetu program, Kwafrika Travel has contributed more than $15,000 to the publishing of the educational materials and teaching materials that accompany this program.
For the Managing Director of Kwafrika Travel and Coordinator of the Utalii Kwetu Group:
Tourism is a sector of the future because if we look carefully at the ten major African economies, we notice that they have all anchored their economies on sustainable tourism. As a company (Kwafrika Travel), little by little, we are moving forward in our quest to be a key player recognized in the DRC for its contribution to sustainable tourism.
__ Veridique Musambaghani, Managing Director of Kwafrika Travel SARL
For the Assistant to the coordinator of the Utalii Kwetu Group, Mrs. Judith Balerwa Gracias affirmed that the Groupe Utalii Kwetu Group npc promoting the Utalii Kwetu Program is a non-profit association under Congolese law working on the mission of doing everything possible to revive tourism and support environmental protection efforts in the DRC.
About the Groupe Utalii Kwetu GUK ‘NPO’
The Utalii Kwetu Group asbl has the following objectives:
- Promoting tourism through education with the Utalii Kwetu Programme,
- Raise awareness among local populations about the importance of nature conservation and environmental protection,
- Carry out reforestation campaigns,
- Promote the marketing of the DRC as a tourist destination,
- Train and promote tourism stakeholders: hoteliers, restaurateurs, travel agencies, tourism operators, developers of tourist sites, tourist guides,…
- Train young people on responsible leadership and entrepreneurship;
- Participate in the responsible management of protected areas (parks, reserves, hunting grounds, botanical gardens, zoos,…);
- Combat the free movement of arms and ammunition in protected areas;
- Raise awareness among populations about the peaceful resolution of conflicts for the preservation of peace and peaceful coexistence;
The ultimate vision is to bring the DRC to an effective contribution to maintaining the global balance of ecosystems and to make tourism a pillar of sustainable and inclusive development.
Utalii Kwetu Group’s Theory of Change
To achieve this, the Utalii Kwetu Group undertakes a 4-phase theory of change:
2: Regulatory Support
3: Infrastructure Rehabilitation
4: Marketing of the DRC as a tourist destination, a land of the future
Description of the theory of change of the Utalii Kwetu Group asbl
The theory of change as envisaged by the Utalii Kwetu Group is elucidated as follows:
- Education: First step being part of the flagship program of the association “PROGRAMME UTALII KWETU“. It is an annual program that aims to introduce schoolchildren to school tourism and environmental protection. We have been taught to read, count and calculate, but the truth is that we have never been trained in this new mobility called tourism, let alone in its effects and its place in economic development yet this new mobility is at the basis of the economic boom in Asia and in many countries in Africa. We believe that education is an important vector of social change and education has an ability to prepare sustainable societies based on a coordinated development. Through this program, we are shaping the schoolchildren of today, the framework of tomorrow. they will constitute the society made up of public officials, entrepreneurs and the population.
- Support for regulation: Regulation is an important component to revive tourism industry. In an Africa where many countries have reformed their laws to attract both internal and external flows of visitors, it will be crucial to work hand in hand with Congolese legislators and ministries concerned with tourism and the environment, to put in place laws to boost tourism at the national level and make sure our nature on which both tourism and our lives depend is preserved and protected.
- Infrastructure rehabilitation: The presence of viable infrastructure is crucial for a revival of tourism. GUK NPO thanks to a public-private partnerships and the raising of various funds intends to rehabilitate, build infrastructure (hotels, roads, motor vehicles, attractions, …) necessary for the revival of the tourism sector.
- Marketing: After good education and sensitization of the masses on tourism and the environment, support for regulation and rehabilitation of infrastructure, it will be time to sell the DRC as a tourist destination. Campaigns to change narratives will be organized mainly to counterbalance the bad press suffered by the DRC.
Pilars of Programme Utalii Kwetu
Note that this Utalii Kwetu Program in its pilot phase targets students in grades 1 and 2 of primary school and will reach 5000 students spread over 25 schools around Virunga National Park. This phase was funded by the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Embassy in the DRC. The 4 pillars of the Utalii Kwetu program will therefore be present in the exercise of this phase of experimentation. We have:
- Distribution of teaching materials: Teaching materials introducing schoolchildren to concepts on sustainable tourism, nature conservation and environmental protection
- School competitions: School competitions will be held in the 25 schools involved in the pilot phase to identify schoolchildren who have mastered the subject on tourism and nature conservation
- Exploration classes: Champion schoolchildren who have passed the competitions and have a perfect command of the notions of tourism and environmental protection, will make expedition classes to combine the theory learned in class with the practice as experienced in the field. It will be a question of getting them to visit their countries because we can never love and preserve a nature that we do not know. These exploration classes will be coupled with reforestation campaigns with a principle: 1 child, 2 trees, in total about 10,000 trees will be planted by schoolchildren during this pilot phase of the Utalii Kwetu program
4. Mass awareness: Children will spend monthly on radio and television to raise awareness among their peers, parents and adults about the merits of traveling but also of preserving our environment on which our lives depend on it. Strong marketing campaigns spread over the 4 axes of the program will be organized to give another image of congo, a lung for humanity, a land of the future.
The Assistant Secretary of State of the United States of America in charge of the Directorate of Oceans and Environmental Issues Mrs. Monica P. Medina and the Ambassador of the United States to the DRC HE Mike Hammer, have therefore participated in the launch of this Utalii Kwetu Program in Goma on February 24, 2022 by carrying out a symbolic distribution of books and a reforestation exercise with the schoolchildren of the EP UENEZAJI, one of the beneficiary schools.
(From left to right), the head of inspectors of the educational province of North Kivu I, the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, the US Ambassador to the DRC and the CEO of Kwafrika Travel with some students of the EP UENEZAJI on the sidelines of the launch of the Utalii Kwetu program