Responsible Tourism

Projects from 1998 – 2003

Gillian Attwood of Wits University has compiled this document. It describes how Malealea Lodge promotes community involvement in tourism.

Social Involvement

We encourage clients to interact with local people in a number of different ways:

  1. By purchasing local crafts. Tourists learn about local people through their crafts and the stories behind those crafts. For example, the little cloth dolls made at the Handicraft Center each tell a story about one of the women in the project. The labels explain this, and tourists are encouraged to ask further questions about the life of women in Lesotho.
  2. Visiting of local communities, homes, schools and local interest points. The village walk includes not only a walk through the village, but also a visit to a home in the community, as well as the village primary school and the pre-school. Tourists can also opt to visit a reclaimed donga, where a guide explains the problem of soil erosion, and what can be done to prevent and combat it. Another walk includes a visit to bushman paintings where tourists can learn about the history of the area. Local guides lead all excursions.
  3. Visiting the cultural museum. The museum offers tourists a chance to learn more about local culture, food, plants and herbal medicines. Tourists also sample an herbal tea and local bread as they listen to stories of local life and local ways.
  4. Consulting the local traditional healer. Tourists have an opportunity to learn more about local paradigms of healing on both a physical and psychological level. The traditional doctor throws the bones for tourists seeking answers to any questions regarding their past, present or future.
  5. Supporting local choirs and bands. Tourists have the opportunity to listen to local music in the evenings when local choirs and bands perform. The host explains what the songs mean and why they are sung. Music provides an excellent way into the life and culture of the local people, and it is not uncommon for the performance to end with tourists dancing around the fire with the band.
  6. Ponies trekking and hiking enable tourists to visit remote mountain areas and sample really rural life. Guests stay in traditional huts and are hosted by families in the villages they pass through. A local guide is also on hand to interpret the experience and answer questions.
  7. Involvement in local development projects. Because of the osmotic relationship between the Lodge and the community, tourists are often moved to want to contribute towards the development of the area. Tourists often want to find out more about the needs in the area and what they can do to help meet these needs. To date, projects that tourists have contributed towards include:
    • the construction of 3 primary school classrooms
    • donation of books and stationery to schools and a community library
    • the construction of a pre-school
    • the purchase and erection of a wind-turbine powering solar panels for lighting and a computer at the high school.
    • the purchase of trees for communities and schools
    • two community gardens
    • the construction of a community sports facility (soccer, netball and volleyball fields and equipment)
    • the construction of a sales room for the craft co-operative
    • the establishment of a social care project (caring for orphans and HIV positive people)
    • wetlands conservation area
    • contribution of clothes to the community.

Some tourists contribute more than money. A group of British students spent about ten days in the community working on different community projects, ranging from tree planting, to installing a wind turbine, to helping excavate a dam. The picture insert shows some of the tourists digging the dam with community members.

Skills development and training in the community

In addition to the contributions described above, other tourists have also been moved to work on a longer term with people in the community to develop skills. For example:

  1. A worldwide music organisation, WOMAD, sponsored one of the local bands to go on a 5-week tour of Britain where the band was involved not only in performances to international audiences, but also in skills development workshops.
  2. A Swiss tourist, Beatrice Brunner, spent 4 months living in Malealea to develop an English Language course for pony trekking guides and members of the Craft Co-operative who run the Handicraft Center
  3. A German tourist recruited and helped to procure sponsorship for a local pony trekking guide to be trained for the Lesotho team of the Equestrian Olympics.
  4. Several young tourists have volunteered to teach in local schools for periods ranging from a few months to a year.
  5. A team of three women living in Maseru travel to Malealea once a week to help members of the sewing project develop their skills. The photo below shows one volunteer in action with members of the craft co-operative. The sewing machines were donated by donated by an overland tour company, Dragoman.

We make an effort to raise local awareness of tourism and thereby increase access to the tourism product. These efforts have centered mostly on encouraging tourism focused entrepreneurial efforts in the community. A concerted effort to develop training materials to help people develop their businesses has been made in this regard. For example:

  1. An English Language course, Talking to Tourists (mentioned above), was developed for members of the local Handicraft Co-operative as well as hiking and trekking guides. This course was designed to help local people develop English skills to support their tourism business efforts. Three local people were trained to teach this course in order that the materials and programme be sustainable.
  2. Several training units on developing business skills were developed. These materials have been used in both the Co-operative and amongst villages who have started tourism-related businesses.
  3. Members of the craft co-operative were taken on an 8-day excursion to visit craft and tourist businesses in Kwazulu-Natal as part of a programme to raise awareness of tourism and tourism related businesses. Each person was required to complete a diary reflecting on specific tourism related issues on the journey.
  4. Pony trekking and hiking guides have also received guide training. A manual entitles Tour Guide Training Workshop manual has been developed for this purpose.

The table below summarises the education materials developed for the communities and projects surrounding the Malealea Lodge, setting out the purpose of each set of materials as well as the number of people who have benefited from these materials, their financial value and the source of funding.

Type of material developed


No of beneficiaries

Financial value


English Language course


To teach English to guides and local entrepreneurs to improve access to the market.





Private Swiss donors

Community Learning Course


To guide the village learning circle facilitators
To guide learning within the craft co-operative






Learning journal


To provide a structure for reflective learning while on a learning tour of KZN craft and tourist places





Canada Fund

Guide training book


To provide training for local pony trekking guides












Much work has been done to develop a wide range of skills in the communities surrounding the Lodge, from business skills training to community development training.

Social investments

Social investments have been made to improve education, health and infrastructure for local residents

Social investments have been made through donations to the Malealea Development Trust. Malealea Lodge initiated the establishment of the Trust, although it is not solely administered or controlled by the Lodge. Eight Trustees have been elected to manage and monitor the activities and finances of the Trust. These trustees include Mick and Di Jones, (the owners of the Malealea Lodge), four members of the local community and two other people who in different capacities have been involved with the Lodge and the local community over a sustained period of time.


Adult education and community development programme. Gillian Attwood, a researcher and lecturer at Wits University has developed a comprehensive education and community development programme. Gillian has spent three and a half years working with the community to establish learning circles who take up development issues in their villages. Each circle has two trained facilitators who manage and monitor the learning and action process. The project currently works with 11 villages in the Malealea valley, as well as in the Craft Co-operative itself. Each circle meets twice a week for a period of two hours. In total there are over 300 people involved in the 11 village learning communities and the craft co-operative and their related education and development activities.

The photo at right shows members of one of the learning circles recording the group’ s discussion about deforestation in their community

Other educational topics that members of the learning circles engage with include:

  • Aids and life skills education
  • Gender issues
  • Business skills
  • Tree planting
  • Land degradation and natural resource management

Literacy and numeracy is systematically integrated into these broad topics so that learners’ progress with learning literacy and numeracy skills in an ongoing way that is simultaneously contextualised within issues relevant to their everyday lives.

Support of schools and a community library

Through encouraging tourists to visit the local schools, the Lodge and the Trust have managed to raise money for infrastructure development as well as more general support for the school in the form of donation of stationery and books for the schools and the library.

Health and HIV/AIDS

Testing and awareness campaign

On a monthly basis, meetings are held at the clinic where members of the community can be counselled and tested for HIV by trained professionals. To date 56 people from the Malealea community have been tested.

Awareness and destigmatization campaign

Malealea is working hard to try and destigmatize HIV. A group of HIV+ women recently visited Malealea and shared their experiences with the about 400 community members at various gatherings. People were encouraged to test early and get help to live with the virus. As a result of these meetings 44 people from Malealea tested and two made public disclosures about their positive status to the community. These two women plan to continue raising awareness of HIV and break the silence surrounding the disease.

Support for people living with HIV

The Malealea Development Trust has established a relationship with a British organisation (AIDSARK) who are supplying anti-retrovirals to HIV+ people. (The people running this organisation visited Malealea Lodge as tourists.) The availability of ARV s provides people with an incentive to test. A nutrition improvement programme has also just been started. This programme encourages people to develop gardens and grow appropriate immune boosting foods.

HIV/AIDS and lifeskills training

To date, 25 local people have been trained to do HIV/AIDS and lifeskills education in the community. All of these people have done HIV education work in their respective village learning circles, reaching another 200 people. Working in conjunction with the local nursing sister, Village Health Workers have also been trained in HIV/AIDS issues.

The table shows all the different constituencies who have been trained, the number of people trained and the number of HIV/AIDS workshops held:


Number of people

Number of workshops

The Craft Co-operative

35 people

2   x 3 day long workshops

Village learning circles

+100 people

8 x 2 hour sessions

Primary and high schools


+200 children

+30 parents

+20 teachers

4 x 1 day long workshops

Village tour guides

20 guides

1 x 1 day long workshop

Village Health Workers at the local clinic

+25 village health workers

5 x 3 day long workshops


+15 chiefs

1 x 1 day long workshop


+ 445 people

21 workshops


The table below summarizes the infrastructure that has been developed for communities in Malealea:

Type of infrastructure


Number of beneficiaries

Financial value


Community garden (fencing, greenhouse, irrigation)

To help promote nutrition and income generation in the community



Tourist donations, German Agricultural Organisation


(and desks)

To create better learning conditions & better education.

100 children per year


Malealea Development Trust (MDT) – donations from tourists


To promote early childhood education

50 children per year


MDT – donations from tourists

Work and sales room for Craft Co-operative

To promote sustainable income generation

35 co-operative members


Malealea Lodge, MDT – Donations from tourists

Fencing of wetlands conservation area

To protect and conserve a central water source in the valley

1000 people


MDT – Donations from tourists


To promote local culture and income generation

One family


MDT – Donations from tourists

Sports Facility

To promote sport and positive social recreation

200 people


MDT and the Big5 (a Dutch group)

Wind turbine, solar panels, computer

To electrify the high school to create better learning conditions and access

100 students


Donations from British School ( Royston High School)

Construction of a dam

Irrigation of a community garden

+40 people


German Embassy




+1,555 people



These photographs illustrate some of the community projects discussed:

Tsinyane village community garden                 Tsinyane dam under construction



Handicraft sales room under construction            Preschool lesson in progress


(preschool in the background)




Wind turbine at the high school                              Wetlands conservation area






Respectful interaction between guests, staff and neighbours is encouraged

Malealea Lodge and the surrounding community are inter-reliant. The relationship with the local community is crucial to the overall success of the Lodge operation, and the success of the Lodge directly affects the well-being of the communities around the Lodge. It is thus very important that good relationships are promoted between the Lodge, staff, guest and community members.   This is achieved in a number of ways:

  • Visitors are encouraged to interact with the community and spend money in the community. Many opportunities for locals to generate income have been created (see Question One of this section).
  • Visitors are encouraged to get involved with development projects in the community.

For example, students from a British High School joined community members who were digging a dam for their village garden (see also Question One). These students paired with the local High School, and raised money on their behalf for the wind-turbine electricity generating system. An aspect of developing this relationship has been some research into Malealea and Lesotho more generally.

  • Written guidelines outlining appropriate behaviours for guest-local interactions are provided in the form of a book in each room, in the bar and in the reception. For example, guests are encouraged to give children who beg for sweets, fruit, rather than sweets. They are also given guidelines on how much to tip and how to cope with the obvious poverty in the area (through making contributions to the Malealea Development Trust)
  • Guests are also encouraged to interact with the owners and staff of the Lodge who willingly give advice and answer any questions guests may have.

Environmental Management

Efforts to conserve and protect the natural environment in Malealea have focused primarily on water conservation, waste management and energy conservation.

Water Conservation Initiatives

Wetlands conservation area

A small (350m x 80m) but critical area of land had been fenced to protect the area. This area used to be a fertile wetlands area, but due to overgrazing and harvesting of grasses, the wetlands has almost dried up. The purpose of this initiative is to restore the wetlands and which feeds a crucial spring that serves a population of between 2000 and 3000 people. Indigenous species of plants will also be rehabilitated in this area in the long term.

Harvesting of rain water

Due to the critical shortage of water in the area, rainwater is harvested wherever possible. A system of gutters preserves all water off the main roof of the Lodge reception and dining area, as well as the main store.

Waste Management Initiatives

Can recycling

Disposing of tin cans presents a real problem to a Lodge far removed from recycling services such as Collect-a-can. For this reason cans have been recycled in a number of different ways.
Firstly, they have been used to construct gabions for soil erosion prevention (see photos below). Usually such gabions are made out of stone. This is an experimental project, as we have not heard of cans being used in this way before.
Secondly, a community can-recycling project has been started. Members of the local communities meet to build different energy saving devices from tin cans. The photos below show a completed ‘fire ring’ and local people building up these rings from old tin cans. 

While these fire rings do help to dispose of a limited number of cans, they also help to preserve wood the main source of fuel used for domestic cooking. Since deforestation is a major concern, this initiative also has broader environmental significance.
Cans have also been used to build little desks for the pre-school as well as tables for the Lodge rooms. Most rooms in the lodge are furnished with a can table.

Bottle recycling

Wine bottles from the Lodge have been used to construct a ‘greenhouse’ in the community garden. The mouth of the bottle faces inwards, and water condenses in the bottle as temperatures drop towards nightfall. The water evaporates again as the sun warms the outside base of the bottle during the day.

Village waste disposal project

In addition to trying to address the waste produced by the Lodge itself, there have also been initiatives to manage waste in the surrounding villages. A village waste disposal programme has been started to encourage local people to dispose of waste in an organised way that preserves the environment. On the following page is a copy of the proposal for rubbish disposal that was presented to community at a village meeting. This proposal was accepted in July 2003, and the construction of the area allocated for rubbish disposal has begun.

Proposal regarding the disposal of rubbish and litter in Makhomalong Village

Members of the Malealea Development Trust and the owners of Malealea Lodge have noted with concern that the disposal of rubbish and litter in the Makhomalong village has become a difficult problem. There are many papers, bottles, tins and other items of rubbish lying around the village. These are not only unsightly to visitors who take guided tours around the village, but are also dangerous to members of the community. Children and adults may easily be injured on broken bottles. Animals who ingest the plastic that is lying around could become ill and die. It is clear that we need to address this problem. In this regard, the Trustees have come up with several suggestions:

  • Firstly, the Trust would like to sponsor (dog-secure) dustbins around the village, particularly in areas where there is a lot of litter. We hope that this might provide people with a place (other than the ground) to throw their litter.
  • Secondly, we would like to suggest that the village be divided into different zones, with one person in charge of emptying the bin in that zone and keeping the zone clean. If the area is kept clean, the person concerned will get a weekly payment of clothes on a continual basis.
  • Thirdly, we would like to suggest that an area of land be allocated for rubbish disposal. More specifically, we would like to request that an area of the village be allocated to dig three holes for the disposal of different kinds of rubbish – a hole for glass, a hole for cans and a hole for plastics and other rubbish. Ntate Mick is willing to build an incinerator for burning the burnable rubbish. Members of the community can also dispose of their household rubbish in this area. The proposed rubbish disposal area might also constitute another zone to be managed by someone (for clothes).
  • If it is possible to allocate an area for rubbish disposal, the Trust is willing to pay for the fencing of the area so that it does not pose any health or safety risk to the children, adults or animals in the area.

We hope that the proposed actions will provide the community with a place to throw their litter and dispose of heir waste more systematically. We also hope that the zoning of the village into different areas, with different members of the community taking responsibility for those zones, will encourage members of the community to use the bins and become more aware of litter and the need to keep the environment clean. In this way we are confident that members of the community will be able to do something to address the problem of rubbish disposal in their village.

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