Meet The Chumbe Team
The Chumbe Team is the beating heart of the project. Together they ensure your stay with us is unforgettable. Our team is predominantly from local coastal communities near Chumbe, where employment is targeted to provide local livelihoods, benefits and opportunities.
A third of our staff is directly involved in conservation management and education, while the whole team is incredibly proud of the successful protection of the Marine Park and the eco-tourism framework under which it operates. The park rangers are former fishers who have been recruited, trained and stationed on the island and lead the outreach with fellow fishers and community members.
Chumbe also supports job creation beyond the island with a range of local enterprises, including agricultural providers, a women’s organic soap cooperative and local community artisans.
With only seven bungalows, Chumbe has one of the highest employee/room ratios of any tourism business in Tanzania, and three times the international average for eco-lodges. Our teams’ commitment and dedication to the project is clear to every visitor to the island.
Come and meet the team. They look forward to welcoming you to the island !
How did Chumbe begin?
The Chumbe project began in the early 1990s. At this time, Tanzania was suffering high levels of marine degradation (destructive fishing, overexploitation, loss of habitat etc.), and the nation had yet to establish any marine conservation sites or protected areas (MPAs). Awareness of the impact of this degradation on marine ecosystems and the fisheries and livelihoods that depended on a healthy marine environment was just beginning to emerge.
Through this time, Chumbe had been a site used by the military for shooting range exercises and local fishers rarely visited the area, meaning the coral reef and forest on the island had remained remarkably intact and biodiverse.
Recognising this, a Social Entrepreneur – Sibylle Riedmiller, a former German aid worker – proposed utilising ‘impact investing’ to establish and sustainably manage an MPA on Chumbe. Her intent was to protect the island’s biodiversity for present and future generations and support environmental education across the region. The MPA would be managed by the communities of Zanzibar, for the communities of Zanzibar.
Following extensive community consultations, awareness-raising, outreach and negotiations with seven government ministries, the Chumbe Island Coral Reef Sanctuary and Forest Reserve were legally gazetted in 1994, making Chumbe the first MPA in Tanzania.
A not-for-profit company – ‘Chumbe Island Coral Park’ (CHICOP) – was established, and a public-private partnership was agreed between the Government of Zanzibar and CHICOP to manage the MPA. CHICOP committed to financing the MPA’s collaborative development, design,and establishment entirely and financingthe long-term conservation and education operations through revenue generated by building a small eco-lodge on the island. This made Chumbe the first privately managed MPA in the world, with all financing for MPA management provided by the company at no cost to the government.
Supported by British-born conservationist Eleanor Carter, participative partnerships were initiated with neighbouring communities, conservation management systems were established, environmental education programmes were developed, and local community members were actively engaged in the project’s design, development and establishment. When the eco-lodge opened in 1998, Chumbe became the first financially self-sustaining MPA in the world.