Nkwichi is the main support for the other two legs of the ‘African three-legged pot’ and the foremost economic driving force behind the Manda Wilderness Project. Through a bed-night levy, a portion of the revenue from each booking goes to support the conservation project and promote development in the area.
The lodge itself consists of six chalets and two private houses all designed to be low-impact and built using as much local natural material as possible such as local stone, bamboo and thatching grass. This also means, in the event of its removal, the environment would return to its natural state within 2 years. The size of the lodge has been kept deliberately small to reduce the effects on the environment.
Efforts have been made to minimise energy consumption at the lodge. The main source of power comes from solar panels and the use of petrol and paraffin is kept to a minimum. Nkwichi also works hard to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible. All kitchen waste goes to the nearby agricultural project to be used as compost; paper and cardboard is recycled to produce paper notelets and cards; old wine bottles are turned into drinking glasses and water bottles.
Nkwichi employs 41 permanent staff from neighbouring villages and sometimes up to 60 daily contractors. It is one of the biggest single employers in the whole province of Niassa. A recent survey suggested that each staff member supports 15 others from their salary; this means that the lodge directly supports the lives of over 600 people.
It is also estimated that there are knock-on benefits from the lodge for up to 11,000 people, more than half the population of the villages in the area. The lodge buys as many supplies locally as possible – including vegetables and building materials. Some of the staff, who all receive comprehensive training at the lodge, have gone on to set up their own successful businesses, including accommodation, restaurants and even hairdressers!
With no light pollution for many miles around, Nkwichi’s beach is perfect for stargazing. Gazing at the stars while sitting around a campfire inevitably leads to everybody sharing stories. This is a story that was told that I can not help but sharing with you.