SERENGETI District officials are holding talks with Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA) officers aimed at persuading them to increase its development budget in five villages.
The WMA earns up to 3bn/- every year from seven tourism investors with substantial amounts coming from Singita Grumeti.
The WMA management spends only 50 per cent of the funds on community development projects in the five villages that formed the WMA in 2007.
The villages are Robanda, Natta, Park Nyigoti, Nyichoka and Makundusi.
Serengeti District Commissioner Mr Nurdin Babu confirmed last week that they had started engaging the WMA management to increase the amount of money they gave to the villages to finance development projects.
“We are asking the WMA to increase the percentage of its revenue that goes to the villages and the dialogue is in progress,” Mr Babu told the ‘Daily News’ in Mugumu.
“The rule stipulates that 50 per cent will go to the villages and 50 per cent remains at the WMA but since their management does not have a lot of things to do apart from conservation and salaries, they should increase the money spent on development in the villages,” Mr Babu remarked.
He said Mara Regional Commissioner Adam Malima was expected to participate in the ongoing talks. Mr Babu said they wished to see the WMA management increasing its development budget that goes to the villages to about 75 per cent instead of 50 per cent.
By so doing, the DC said residents of the five villages would immensely benefit from the presence of the WMA which they formed in 2007.
Serengeti District Council Executive Director Eng Juma Hamsini also underscored the importance of the WMA increasing its budget on development issues.
“The thing is, the WMA management is obliged to allocate not less than 50 per cent of its revenue on development of the people but it has never spent 65 per cent, 75 per cent or even 50 per cent on development,” Eng Hamsini told the ‘Daily News’.
The Serengeti DED said he was not satisfied with the way the WMA leaders were spending billions of shillings it earned from seven tourism companies.
“After sending the 50 per cent to the villages they remained with a huge amount of money (about 1.5bn/-) but they have never even drilled a single borehole for the people; they have nothing to showcase as the WMA,” he added.