Thanks to the support of the MAVA foundation, Chimbo was able to initiate the MAVA-project in the Boé. Click here for more information of the MAVA foundation.
The MAVA project will focus on the development of ecotourism in the Boé region. First of all the main focus of the project will be to attract ecovolunteers instead of ecotourists. The reason for this is that the Boé area is remote and local people do not have any experience with tourism at all. It is a big challenge for them and for us. But the most important reason to choose to develop ecovolunteer tourism first is the better relation between investments and results, both financially and in the field of conservation. In general they are the less critical type, most open minded and flexible. They will contribute to the development of the entire ecotourism programme in the Boé.
The first steps to attract ecotourists will also be set during the first phase, and tourists are welcome if they want to visit the area. But our investments and structural source of income should be the ecovolunteers during the first phase.
People in the communities contribute with work to the entire programme and benefit from it. It provides an alternative source of income for them. If people in the Boé area benefit from the tourism, and in that way indirectly from their environment and its biodiversity they will care more about it and make sure that it stays that way. So the area and its flora and fauna will profit from this new situation, as will the local people.
CHIMBO and Daridibó installed a solar centre in Beli in 2011. So there should always be electricity for the volunteers for computers, mobile phones (Orange has installed recently an antenna) etc.
Women from Beli will cook for the ecovolunteers. For the women it’s a way to earn some money and profit from tourism. Prices for volunteers include three meals a day. If the Environmental House that is foreseen by the MISUBAB project of Daridibó will be built, there will be a small kitchen available for the volunteers, where they can prepare tea and coffee (no meals).
There will be bicycles available for the ecovolunteers. Transport between Bissau and Beli will be arranged by Daridibó. We can arrange transport between Banjul and Guinea Bissau if people prefer to travel to Banjul by plane. They will have to pay extra for this transport or arrange themselves to travel by public transport.
The radio in the Boé area is very important for communication and works very well.
Since this year mobile phones are working in the area as well. In case they do not work, we also have a satellite phone available (€ 3 per minute).
There will be a medicine cabinet in the office in Beli. Tourist have to be insured properly because of the potential need of evacuation from the country (there is no hospital of an acceptable level for international tourist in Guinea Bissau). They have to take proper precautions against tropical diseases.
The most important serious risk are snake bites. We are also looking for antidotes, because snakes are present in the Boé. In Beli is a small medical centre. If we find antidotes we will install a refrigerator in the Beli office.
In Beli are 10 small traditional houses for ecovolunteers (see photo below). In every house can stay one ecovolunteer, and the houses are suitable for couples as well. We can receive 10 to 20 people in Beli. We are planning to construct a small guest house in four different villages: Che Che, Guiledje, Quissem and Dinguiraye. People in the villages will take care of these guest houses. Meals will be prepared by local people on demand.
The interior of the houses will be simple: a bed with mosquito net, a chair, a table, a lamp, and a bowl and watering can. Showers will be inside the cabins. There will be shared toilets outside.
There will be a shared working place (for working in the computer, reading etc.) near the houses as well. Computers are available for the ecovolunteers in the Daridibó office.
Activities free time
We are planning to organize a range of activities for the volunteers to do in their free time. Examples are:
- Cross country bike tours
- Bird watching
- Cultural activities
Ecovolunteers will receive a workbook ‘Volunteering in the Boé’ after confirming their participation in the programme. The book will contain the following information:
- Background information about CHIMBO Foundation, Daridibó and their work
- Basic information about Guinea Bissau
- Background information about the Boé area and its biodiversity
- Background information about the local culture in the Boé and some basic phrases in Fula
- Specific tasks and free time activities.
- Practical information about climate, proper clothes and shoes, safety, health, communication, transport etc.
- Basic packing list
- Information about visa
- Information about an insurance especially for volunteer
For ecovolunteers it is important to know what kind of work they will do in the Boé area. They need to be prepared and know if they are able and willing to do it. The activities will change a bit with each new research project that is taking place. Examples of the work they might do are:
- Participating in the field research (for example collecting samples)
- Analysing data of trap camera’s
- Assisting in the environment house (develop new projects)
But it can also be work that is not related to research:
- Assisting in the village on constructing works
- Teaching (language courses and computer courses)
- Teaching children (language and nature education)
For the volunteers it is very important that they can see some result of their own work during their stay and in general see how the work of ecovolunteers is used for the benefit of nature conservation and improvement of the well-being of local people. This will motivate them.