Manda Wilderness Community Trust was set up by the founders of Nkwichi Lodge as a UK-registered charity run separately from the tourism activities of the Lodge itself. The Trust helps the founders of the Lodge fulfil their aspiration of truly responsible tourism which strengthens the local community and environment.
The Trust puts the 16 communities along the Lake Niassa/Malawi shoreline at the heart of all its activities, with representatives of the 20,000 local people deciding what projects to pursue and contributing both labour and materials.
Supported by the Trust but led by the people themselves, an Association called UMOJI (meaning 'as one') has been created, with one elected member from each village. The Association helps draw attention to a previously neglected area, and gives its members a unique platform to share their views.
The Trust has secured land titles for the villagers where none existed before. It has identified and mapped a 130,000-hectare conservation area destined for community development through responsible tourism. Hunting and destructive farming techniques are actively discouraged.
The Trust also supports an experimental farm project aimed at helping local farmers diversify their crops and improve healthy nutrition for themselves and their families.
The Trust has increased the educational opportunities for the villagers by helping local people to build ten schools and seven teachers' houses which in turn has attracted teachers to very remote villages. The Trust also aims to enhance the economic and social opportunities for local people through projects such as a bicycle rental scheme, a planned micro-finance system, and hugely popular events such as a Trust-sponsored football tournament and dug-out canoe races.
The Trust is also looking to support local choirs, who regularly perform for Lodge guests.