GIZ, a German sustainable development company, is boosting tourism in Malawi with its extensive series of projects, helping residents who have been hit hardest financially by COVID-19. Since the first project on Mount Mulanje, GIZ has worked with locals to renovate and reimagine the tourist hotspots of the mountains around Blantyre, Maleri Island, and Thuma Forest Reserve.
The mountains that surround Blantyre – Michiru, Ndirande and Soche – provide half-day excursions for residents and tourists. The area is also home to a variety of hikes , and hosts the annual Three Peaks challenge for hikers.
GIZ, in collaboration with local workers, has constructed toilets, picnic benches, a braai and firepits on the mountains. It has cleared and maintained the hiking trails; commissioned local artists and artisans to create maps, signs and art on the mountains; and distributed advertising maps and brochures.
On Maleri Island, one of several in Lake Malawi National Park, in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, GIZ has built a base camp for scouts and rangers to prevent cichlid fishing close to the island. Hiking trails on the hills are also in development.
Thuma Forest Reserve is the latest tourist hotspot to undergo extensive work. The reserve is home to elephants, antelope and numerous other species that attract tourists.
GIZ is working to conduct maintenance on the 9km-long road in the reserve, to create hiking trails and mapping, and engage with local artists to provide signage and items for the self-catering facility. Some of these artists have only been earning MWK 3000 (€3.12) per month.