At COBATI, we link tourism to conservation, cultural heritage, and sustainable rural development to enhance livelihoods and enrich Uganda’s tourism product. With support from the MTN Uganda Foundation, COBATI initiated a Homestay Model Homes Program whereby selected homes are upgraded to a level where they can host tourists. The family is trained in visitor handling, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and waste disposal. It is expected that community tourism will economically empower families and provide cross-cultural exchange between hosts and visitors.
Maria Baryamujura’s work takes her to many areas in rural Uganda where she meets people in their communities. The majority perceive their villages and homesteads as underprivileged and themselves as without opportunity. Due to a lack of sufficient information and exposure, many people do not see the potential in their environment, indigenous knowledge, and culture. The unfortunate trend is that many move to towns and cities in search of economic opportunities, leaving behind women and the elderly.
But some families have not given up and are not waiting for government to improve their circumstances. In a bid to survive, they have become innovative. COBATI identifies these deserving families and trains them to include tourism in their homestead activities. The homesteads become part of the COBATI “Homestead Tourism” program, giving visitors the opportunity to share the extraordinary experience of these rural achievers.
Bombo Community Tourism Initiative
The Bombo Community Tourism Initiative is a village-based tourism cluster made up of several homestays, a womens handcraft group, traditional dancers, and a mini cultural centre. COBATI implemented the project with financial support from the MTN Uganda Foundation. The initiative is community-owned by Nubians under their umbrella association, Uganda Nubian Consultative Forum. This project started in 2009 and successfully launched in 2011. We are currently in the monitoring and evaluation stage.
“Until we hosted tourists from Spain, we used to think there was nothing special about our food, like our gurusa (a salty pancake made out of maize flour) or sombe (mixture of cassava leaves and ground nuts)”.
– Mama Milly, Homestay Owner, Bombo Community Tourism Initiative
COBATI Life Skills Training Centre
The COBATI Life Skills Training Centre in Mbarara municipality is a one-stop centre for life skills and sustainable community tourism training in East Africa. It offers residential and day-long vocational programs, field studies, and research-based activities.
MTN Uganda Foundation Partnership
Following the success of the Bombo Community Tourism Initiative, MTN Uganda Foundation will fund the development of ten new agri-tourism homesteads in southwestern Uganda. One of the new homesteads is the Kahima Homestead.
We are partnering with the Chimpanzee Trust to develop and establish homesteads in Hoima district in western Uganda.
COBATI provides training to Uganda communities and individuals who wish to understand the basics of community tourism and how to participate in its development. Our training targets people who live en route to and near tourist attractions and unique local features.
We offer tailor-made education on a variety of topics related to community tourism basics and sustainable rural development. Participants learn how to establish and provide tourism-related services and products from their homes and communities.
Please contact us to inquire about bringing COBATI training to your organization or community.
COBATI offers training on the following topics.
- Community Tourism as a tool for income generation and poverty alleviation in rural areas
- Agri Tourism – Linking tourism to agriculture
- Cultural Heritage – Linking tourism to local people and their cultures
- Heritage Trails – Developing scenic and historical trails
- Handicrafts and Tourism – Promoting ethnic designed crafts and tapping indigenous knowledge
- Homestead Tourism – Linking tourism to rural hospitality, local lifestyles, and village environment as attractions
- Support to small and emerging local tourism businesses in rural Uganda
- Conservation of unique rural features and historic sites as community tourism attractions
- Conducted a project in Buhoma Village in 2003 that provided in-depth training to nine community walk guides and homesteads participating in the community village walk in order to improve their level of performance.
- Trained 27 Board Members of Nkuringo Conservation and Development Foundation (NCDF) to acquire a hands-on experience in community based tourism development.
- Trained members of the Uganda Community Tourism Association to participate in Uganda’s first Tourism Expo “Destination Uganda Tourism Expo 2005” at the source of the River Nile, Jinja. Wellsprings Adventure Club Ltd. organized the Expo in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry and SNV- Netherlands Development Organisation to generate interest in Uganda’s rich tourism resources.
- Trained Local government staff and selected community members in the districts of Bushenyi and Soroti, supported by the UNDP/Private Sector Development Programme.
COBATI has assisted the following organisations with training or consulting.
- Mgahinga Bwindi Forest Conservation Trust in Buhoma around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
- UNDP/Private Sector Development Program in the districts of Bushenyi and Soroti
- Africa Wildlife Foundation/International Gorilla Conservation Program around Mgahinga National Park in Kisoro District
- Mbarara District Economic Council
- Bushenyi District Council
- Nkuringo Conservation and Development Foundation
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Uganda
- Lake View Resort Hotel, Mbarara
- SNV Uganda
- Uganda Community Tourism Association
- Uganda Nubian Consultative Forum
Community Tourism Guide
COBATI partnered with the Chimpanzee Trust and Darwin Initiative to create a free Community Tourism Guide Book.