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The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Nyungwe Nziza (“Beautiful Nyungwe”) project was named one of the winners of the Society of American Travel Writers’ (SATW) Phoenix Awards at SATW’s annual convention in Biloxi, Mississippi in October 2013. USAID’s involvement in Nyungwe dates back over 20 years, and since the forest’s designation as a national park in 2007 USAID has had active projects in conservation and ecotourism, engaging collaboratively with the Government of Rwanda to support their efforts to independently and responsibly manage the park and its resources.

At the SATW awards ceremony, the Nyungwe Nzizaproject was recognized for its contributions to eco-tourism, biodiversity and local communities. SATW Co-Chair Cheryl Hargrove said that “the SATW Phoenix Committee and Board of Directors selected the Nyungwe Nziza Project after studying many projects in many countries. They voted for the Nyungwe Nziza Project because it is a great example of the type of project that should be replicated around the world.”

USAID’s Nyungwe Nziza project is working with the Rwanda Development Board to transform Nyungwe National Park into a viable ecotourism destination. The ultimate goal is a thriving economy in and around the park with engaged communities and a private sector with a business model based on protecting and leveraging the unique environment in which they live and work. Currently, the project’s market-driven product development and marketing strategies are working to:

  • Diversify the local economy, create jobs, and increase family income, resulting in reduced poverty and reduced threats;
  • Forge scalable and creative public-private partnerships to increase investment in and around the park, resulting in a sustainable, market-driven ecotourism business plan for the park;
  • Improve the ecotourism enabling environment, resulting in sustainable ecotourism development at Nyungwe and beyond; and
  • Better integrate local communities into existing and new ecotourism value chains.

As stated by Peter Malnak, Mission Director of USAID/Rwanda, “Nyungwe National Park is one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world. USAID is proud to have been working alongside our Rwandan partners in this montane rainforest since the 1980s. Nyungwe is now transforming into an ecotourism destination that attracts visitors from all around the world. Most importantly, the Rwandan government, the private sector, and local communities understand the value in Nyungwe, and are working together to protect the forest not only for its remarkable beauty, but also for the economic benefits and ecological services it provides.”

Nyungwe Nziza is a U.S. Agency for International Development project. It is implemented by Development Alternatives, Inc., in collaboration with SW Associates, a Washington, DC-based international consulting firm, and the U.S. National Park Service.

For further information, contact: Boaz Tumwesigye, Boaz_Tumwesigye@dai.com, +250-788309833