Uganda Community Lodge Projects – Tourism

Below is the case study for the Uganda Community Lodge projects.

Project nameUganda Lodge Community Projects
LocationKabale Road - Ruhanga - Itojo - Ntungamo District SW Uganda
Date case study completedFeb '11
Contact for more informationAnn McCarthy
For more information on this project contact the TBN office at
Background, purpose and progress to date
What was the problem / opportunity?The parish of Ruhanga is in a rural area of SW Uganda but on the main road where all traffic going to Rwanda Congo or mountain gorilla trekking pass. The proposed project - opening a Guest House and snack bar/coffee shop - was in an ideal position. Denis Aheirwe who comes from the village planned to be able to provide some employement for his friends as they are in the main subsistance farmers with no hope of jobs besides what they can grow on their compounds.
What is the Project's vision?I returned to UK and did some fundraising which went to completing the Guest house and opening the cafŽ and rooms. We were already able to employ several local people full-time and part-time builders and other trades people on the proceeds. Denis & I wanted to provide a resource centre but after talking with local women we were asked to open a nursery school as parents/guardians all wanted to educate their children from an early age. We did this starting with 10, charging £8 a term for school fees. More joined but we started to find that many could not afford that. Early last year it was suggested that we find sponsors to pay their schoolfees - at £3.50 a month. By the end of 2010 we had 140 children in school and most sponsored although the money comes to the school not to the families - and what is left over goes to more classrooms. It is so successful that we now have over 200 children this term although are charging them £5 a term until we find sponsors. We have now 7 local teachers plus a headmaster and a matron to help with babies plus a P1 and P2 class. We now use the Guest House almost exclusively for western volunteers and this enables us to employ more staff, plus we purchase quite a lot of our food from local farmers.
How is this vision to be achieved?By teaching the children business skills at an early age and helping them realise they should set themselves up in business rather than aiming for senior education when there are few jobs. Their English is improving rapidly from interaction with volunteers. We would like to build a resource craft centre so we can include these extra lessons for the children want to teach vocational skills to adults in the evenings. We have run two of Mike Clargo's Business Training Courses and are looking to develop this firther now we have translated it into Runyankole.
What progress has been made to date?I am trying to do things that will benefit the whole village and discourage individual gifts to any specific children or families. We have distributed 250 mosquito nets which topped up a govt. distribution to pregnant women & under 5's. We have just started work on a £15,000 gravity water scheme to supply clean water to three villages, our School Uganda Lodge (our Guest House) plus a couple of government schools. Later we plan to look at other things that will benefit the villagers such as upgrading their latrines, kitchens and so on. The water scheme will be owned by the village people (not Denis or myself) as we have a CBO consisting of several LC's (Local Chaimen) and co-opted members from each village.
When will the project be self funding, i.e. cost covered by earned income?At the moment this is not a project that could easily continue on its own and this is where I am looking for help, both in Uganda and here in the UK. I need ideas for improving income of the farmers and also how our school could become self-funding (the school is currently run on sponsorship money and volunteers).
I need a business plan drawn up with Denis focussing on what could be done that could benefit many and has a reliable market, such as improvement of vegetable strains and varieties, fruit drying, manufacturing (mechanics metalwork). Currently, all monies donated go straight out there for improvements and upgrades, as do profits from Lodge and Sponsorship. Here in UK ideally I would like to try and find a small group of people who could meet regularly at my home at Shepperton and advise me on how I can best split all the jobs I do up and ensure that I am not the only person the project is relying on to run and fundraise.
What has been the direct and indirect impact of the project to date?230 + children are being educated in the village most of who would not have been at school without our input. We have given business training to about 70 adults. We have given a number of people basics in computing, and had several students learning tailoring, We have given 250 nets to villagers plus in 2009 volunteers and bought 100 nets for local boarding school together with many other items. We are now employing many villagers indirectly through implementing the water scheme and within a few months they will have taps near to their homes
Specifically, how many FTE jobs have been created or sustained? We are employing 16 or more people full-time at the Lodge and the school and we buy food and materials locally, employing many casual part-time trades.
How much direct and indirect investment has been made to date?Several thousand pounds, but hard to say clearly until we can hire an accountant or get assistance.
Lessons learned
What lessons have been learned? What do you know now that you wish you knew at the outset?That muzungus should work from the bottom up utilising existing local groups even if they are adapted for new ideas. For a long time villagers were resentful as they saw no direct benefit - it was only the educated ones that realised I was putting in something to enable more people to come and stay in the area and that would gradually provide many things for the villagers - many thought I was giving money to Denis & he was eating it!
Expansion and replication
What are your plans to expand or replicate the project?Plans to enlarge the school eventually up to P7 but emphasis on vocational subjects - build a properly planned training centre
How many FTE jobs do you expect to have been created or sustained in 3 years?Guessing 20 or 30 or more - depends what help I get
What help do you need to achieve your goals?Project management, planning, funds, help on a weekly basis with paperwork and admin and help on how to pass my knowledge on to other volunteers
Could this project be replicated by others elsewhere? What would be needed to do this?Yes - provided it was in a suitable area on a main route and with reasonably close access to tourist attractions. Requires project manager, time, start up money and better planning that we undertook.
Are there documents to aid replication in the TBN resource library?No. Maybe someone could offer to write them once project is completed?

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