The Role of Ecolodges in Community Development and Environmental Conservation: Case of Bishangari

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Addis Ababa University


Ecolodge development is expanding with the glorification 0/ ecotourism all over the world (Honey, 1999). Likely, it has come true in Ethiopia by the opening 0/ the Bishangari ecolodge in 2001. The ecolodge is found in the rich biodiversity area 0/ KNR (Bishangari) on the eastern shore 0/ the Langano Lake, central Ethiopian Rift valley, Oromia region. In spite 0/ its expansion, the significance 0/ ecolodges is not as such systematically studied in particular Ethiopia. Thus, being part 0/ college 0/ development studies it is conducted with the purpose 0/ exploring the role 0/ ecolodges in community development and environmental conservation with particular reference to the Bishangari. In this respect, the study uses both quantitative and qualitative approaches. For the quantitative, 108 household heads were taken as a sample from the benefited kebeles; Dawe, Sembero-Rrogicha, Keraru and Boku-walda through cluster, pwposive and proportionate random sampling procedure. Interviews and observations were used/or the qualitative approach. Interview was conducted/or the purposefully selectedfive key informants from the nearby local communities, two woreda tourism and environment experts and the ecolodge manager. Checklists, note-takings and photographs were accompanied while and afier observation. Descriptive statistical methods including percentages, frequencies, mean, graphs, and tabulalion as well as coding have been used as a means lor analyzing the data. The study il1dicated that Bishangari ecolodge is playing a great role /01' the better life 0/ the inaccessible local communities. They generate income by selling agricultural, souvenir, and other products to the ecolodge and the tourists. Social services are also expanded through the provisions 0/ clean water, school/acilities, transportations and communications by the ecolodge. Concurrently, 49 local community members are permanent employees 0/ the ecolodge. Beside with employment opportunity, the participation o/the local communities in the operations o/the ecolodge is found significant /01' their empowerment. Besides, it conserves environment and biodiversity through zoning schemes, propel' waste management, solar energy utility, environmental education, limited canying capacity and alternative measures against poaching and destruction. However, the results are also reckoning to have concerns 0/ stakeholders like government recognition on the role 0/ ecolodges and active participation o/local communities in decision-making. There/ore, ecolodge operation strategies, community participation platforms and synergy among stakeholders shall be devised. Moreover, the local communities ought to utilize the cllitural productsjilrther and generate money from the coming ecotourists.



Community Development, and Environmental Conservation