Wetland development in the context of ecotourism : a conceptual design proposal for a wetland site in Lake Victoria, Kenya

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: The travelling sector is expanding worldwide, which puts all destinations under pressure to have a functioning social system and good resources to manage the problems and take advantage of the opportunities that the tourism sector can offer a community. The area around Kisumu in Kenya, like much of Africa, tourism can simultaneously ensure a stable financial future while it removes, as a result of a growing population, more and more of the scenery that many tourists want to experience. Responsible travel to natural areas that promotes conservation of the environment and improves the welfare of local people is what defines ecotourism. A concept that implies a closed cycle, where visitor’s needs are met in balance with what can be given back, without risking creating imbalances in society. Along the coast of Lake Victoria, valuable papyrus wetlands provide Kisumu vital ecosystem services such as water purification, climate adaptation while it also serves as a reservoir for biodiversity. The wetland in the area have the last 50 years lost more than 50 % of its acreage and capacity due to an increasing population in the area. The population growth is the highest in the world and poverty and diseases like AIDS and parasites in the lake are recurring issues. To tackle these problems, a plurality of organizations of various size in Kisumu have established ecotourism as a brand for the region. Many projects have already been initiated at a national and international level but it requires a long term commitment and the right profession in context for all parts of the initiative to come, and develop, together. In agreement with the stakeholders at Dunga Beach and at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science & Technology , I give a suggestion of how their ecotourism brand can be further developed. By looking at the area from a landscape architect perspective, I want to take advantage of the perpetual impression that Dunga’s, and the rest of Kisumu’s wetland provide. This proposal is inspired of the successful concept Naturum® in Sweden, and based on The International Eotourism Society ’s principles for application of ecotourism. The aim is to create a conceptual design proposal for an eco-tourism site that will inspire people to want to contribute to protect the sensitive habitat in the area. During a Minor Field Study, granted and partly financed by Sida, the area was inventoried and analysed through extensive literature studies, by discussing with residents and stakeholders in the area, by conducting site observations and through, among landscape architects often used analysis methods such as SWOT and LCA. Based on the results of the inventory and analysis a program was created in line with Naturum®’s guidelines and ecotourism principles to reach a foundation as motivated as possible for the final proposal. A concluding discussion is surrounding the design proposal, the Wetland Gallery, on the subject of how making a site more available can help to increase the understanding of the conservation of it. The conceptual proposal The Wetland Gallery is created to bring people closer to nature, to be inspired and learning by experiencing. Those who work on the beach should naturally be able to take advantage of the facility and use as a functioning complement to the ordinary tourist guidance that is offered. The main purpose with the design is still that it should be open to the public since nature should not only be for those who can pay a great deal of money for travel experiences. The last goal for me with the Wetland Gallery is for it to be a small step in the direction to strengthen Kisumu’s trademark as an ecotourism destination, according to the wishes of the KLIP through Mistra Urban Future, a sub-organization to Sida.

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