The Island is much more than one man’s dream. The Katombora community is also eagerly awaiting the opening of The Island, as tourism provides a much needed source of income in these rural fishing villages. The community has been involved in The Island from the very beginning, and they are looking forward to the job opportunities and community support that are at the heart of The Island plan. Future head guide Edwin Mwampole keeps telling Bart to “hurry up” and open the lodge already!
The access point for The Island is the harbour at Muluka, a small fishing village on the Zambian bank of the mighty Zambezi River. Zambia has a reputation as one of the most peaceful and welcoming countries in Africa. Zambia has experienced rapid economic growth in recent decades, but two thirds of Zambians are still living in poverty. Muluka is typical of many rural villages along the river. For most of the year Katombora residents rely on subsistence fishing and farming to feed their families, with the annual linenga (Zambezi Parrotfish) run providing a welcome boost to incomes. Fishing at Katombora is a difficult and highly skilled job, and involves paddling mokoros, traditional dugout canoes, through the reeds and rapids.
Bart has known the people of the community for the last 18 years, working alongside many of them back in the days when The Island was home to Jungle Junction camp. As well as job creation, we will be developing needs-based education and agriculture programmes. Gardening is Bart’s passion, second only to fly fishing, and he will be working to explore sustainable agricultural practices to enable the community to diversity their sources of income. Some of the ideas discussed by community members so far include organic vegetable gardening, reforestation programmes, fish breeding and honey production. The community have identified early education as a key area for development, so I will be working to help develop the pre-school provision in the area with educational organisation Sifunda.
Islanders will have the opportunity to get involved in these community projects in an authentic and meaningful way. From sharing existing skills to learning new ones, we are excited that community involvement will be one of the highlights of a stay on The Island.