Footsteps Eco Lodge
Built as a traditional african village compound, 9 large huts with ensuite facilities and 2 log cabins. Eco features include solar power, permaculture landscaping and a unique fresh water pool. Meals alfresco, fruit from the garden, birdwatching and local ecotours. Certified Gold by Travelife 2011-2014
|1. POLITICAL CRITERIA: Rating: 3 out of 5|
1a. Who is/are the legal owner(s) of the Lodge? (please state official name if owned by a company)
David Charles White
1b. Who is/are the legal manager(s) of the Lodge?
Dodou Touray. Dodou, along with the majority of staff at Footsteps Eco Lodge has worked with me since the 1st day of building in 2001.He started as a builder and upon opening the lodge applied for the position of Barman. He quickly became Bar Manager and after some management training became General Manager of Footsteps in 2008. Dodou, as all of the staff, comes from and lives in Gunjur.
1c. Since when has the facility been under the current ownership & management?
Current ownership 2003, current management 2008.
1d. If owned by a family, since when has the family been residing in the area, and for how many months each year?
The lodge is owned by me and I have been a permanent resident in The Gambia since 2003.
1e. How are decisions taken and by whom? (Please provide details)
Decisions are taken by me as owner and Dodou as manager, also the heads of staff are invited to input their views and feelings at regular meetings.
1f. Who has access to the Lodge's facilities and its land and for what uses?
Everyone is welcome at the lodge to use its facilities, it has a free bird hide and free freshwater pool, and very soon it will have its own Mosque for the staff and others to take prayer.
1g. Who took the initiative to build this Lodge?
Myself David White
1h. Which is the nearest local community (village or town) and how far is it from the lodge (in Km)?
Gunjur is the nearest and is under 2km from the lodge
1i. Did the (nearest) local community participate in the decision-making process concerning the founding and creation of this Lodge and how?
Yes the local community was involved from the start, The Chief, The Alkali and many village elders gave their support for this initiative.
1k. Does the (nearest) local community participate in the running of the lodge and how?
All the staff at footsteps come from the village of Gunjur, in fact the same people who built the lodge with me still work in it now in very key positions.
1l. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?
Recently due my charity works in the village of Gunjur, I have been asked to sit on The Abubacar Sidique Foundation for Orphaned & needy Children.
|2. ECONOMIC CRITERIA - Rating: 3 out of 5|
2a. Number of rooms:
2b. Number of beds:
6 double beds and 6 single beds. Extra beds can be added at no extra charge.
2c. What is the total area of the land of the property?
3,200 sq. mt.
2d. What is the total covered area of the Lodge including rooms and common areas (in sq. metres)?
630 sq. mt. Below we see an aerial view of the lodge including the covered freshwater reed bed filtered pool.
2e. What is the total building footprint (in sq. metres) – i.e. part of the land covered by buildings
300 sq. mt.
2f. How many employees are there (excluding yourself and members of the family)?
2g. How many employees are from the (nearest) local village?
2h. If applicable, do employees or the community own any shares or share part of the revenue?
Yes , 10% of our net profit is gifted to various projects in the village, please see our pledge found on our website.
2i. What was the total turnover (total sales) in 2011? (please state in your local currency)
GMD 309,060 (Gambian Dalasi) - approx. Euros 7,800 / GBP 6,500
Also see our Accounts document.
2j. What were the total profits in 2011?
There were no profits made in 2011, since our bushfire in 2007 we have not shown a profit and have only shown a loss. We are however closing the gap each year and are confident of our sustained growth in 2012 and 2013
2k. How are profits distributed, and who decides about it?
When profits are realized they will be distributed after 10% has been deducted and donated between the local organizations in the village( As per our Mission Statement). These are decided by myself, Dodou Touray ( manager) and representatives from the village community.
2l. Are there any national and local taxes to be paid or are you exempt?
Yes there are national and local taxes and we are not exempt from any.
2m. What was the total amount of taxes paid in 2011?
Total taxes where no profit is realized is 2% of turnover after depreciation has been deducted, in 2011 this was calculated to be 7726 dalasi.
2n. What percentage of consumables are locally sourced, how many are nationally sourced, and how many are imported?
We grow some of our own consumable foods ( 30%, ) all other goods are sourced locally ( through our staff, e.g., our night security supplies the lodge with cucumber and lettuce whilst our waiter Buba supplies tomatoes) our only imported goods are things like coffee.
2o. Do you cultivate food for the guests?
Yes we grow, Banana, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon , Lime, Papaya, Guava, Avocado, Peppers, Carrots garlic, Herbs and much more
2p. Do you have any agreements with local producers?
We purchase all other ingredients direct from our staff whom all have their own gardens or from the local growers in Gunjur.
2q. Have ever you received any funding, state, national, private or international and for what purposes?
No funding has ever been awarded to us.
2r. What is the minimum (low season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?
£35 per night based on 2 sharing b&b
2s. What is the maximum (high season) double room rate (including breakfast) per room per night?
£60 per night based on 2 sharing b&b
2t. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?
We outsource as much as we can to the village, for example, local guides, birding guides, boat trips, taxis, batik workshops, silver workshops, and art workshops.
Also see our Sample contract of Employment.
|3. ENVIRONMENTAL CRITERIA - Rating: 5 out of 5|
3a. Lodge Siting (how was the lodge location chosen):
The lodge was deliberately situated over 1km back from the beach line, we advertise as 'In the bush and by the beach'. It was chosen to be an hour's drive from the mass tourist area of Senegambia.
3b. Policy followed during construction:
Only local materials and labour force were utilised in the building and subsequent rebuilding of Footsteps in Feb. 2007
3c. Policy followed during renovation and/or maintenance:
Only local materials and labour are used in the maintenance of Footsteps, all departments have received relevant training with regard the maintenance of their area.
All lighting is solar powered using energy efficient 7 watt DC bulbs.
Heating is not an issue in West Africa
Houses are all constructed to be intelligently cool having rooftop ventilation being circular in shape and by having vegetation and Permaculture landscaping to offer cool pockets of air that surround each hut
Cleaning is undertaken daily in all areas, only environmentally safe products are used .
3h. Water Management:
Footsteps is fitted throughout with en suite composting toilets and all its water from shower and sinks is passed through a grey water filtration system and fed to the eagerly awaiting bananas etc.
Also see our guide on how to build a composting toilet, related to our work with the NIAFORANG Project in Senegal.
Our pool is an example only of how to filtrate water and a wonderful attraction for the indigenous wildlife and birds, it also happens to be the only working pool of its kind in The Gambia.
For more information see the video below:
Footsteps has 2 fully qualified Chefs who wear full chef's whites and operate from an OPEN VIEW kitchen, transparency at all times, each member of staff is screened monthly for communicable disease.
3j. Waste management (in detail please):
At Footsteps we prefer to call this RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. First our toilet resource is operated using a system known as 'The Twin chamber Vietnamese Composting method', it has two chambers which are very simple to use, simply place approx one cup of organic material such as sawdust, or leaves over your toilets surface each time you use the toilet. It takes approx 6 months to fill one chamber and it is at this point that you change chambers meaning that each chamber is emptied once each 6 month period. The resource is then taken to another composting area used to compost the fruit and vegetable peelings and is layered there for a further 6 months, the gardener takes care of this process and maintains the moisture balance needed to create truly valuable fertilizer. As Below:
3k. Insect, pest control:
We keep our area clean and rubbish free and as such do not have a problem with insects or pests per say, however we are in the Gambian bush and various biting insects live here, by wearing long trousers and shirt sleeves this is not a problem.
3l. Energy Sources, Use & Saving Measures:
All our energy is produced by wind turbine and solar power, we use energy saving lighting everywhere and even our freezers are 12v solar ( steca pf166 ) keeping our freezer food at -020 degree's
3m. Noise Protection:
We don't create any noise to speak of, our guests are mostly birders and nature lovers and require peace and quiet.
3n. Name, population and distance of nearest settlement (in km or miles)?
Gunjur is the nearest settlement approx 2 kms away, it has a population of 12,000 people
3o. Is the Lodge accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest settlement:
The lodge is accessible by car, pushbike, donkey, or on foot from the main road bus stop at Gunjur
3p. Is the nearest settlement accessible by public transport (such as bus, train, boat)? If yes, please provide instructions from nearest International airport, or nearest major city.
The nearest settlement is Gunjur and can be reached from the airport via taxi, approximately 40 minutes drive along the coastal road
3q. Distance from nearby village / city:
3r. Architectural Features:
Tension domed roofs resemble the local mosques, African style round houses.
3s. Construction Materials:
Fired mud block.
3t. Landscape Management:
Is managed by 2 full time gardeners who, water each morning and evening ensuring the water we save using our toilets and showers is put to good use.
3u: Do you organise or promote tours involving hunting or sport-fishing?
No, we do offer fishing with a rod and reel from our local beach , the chefs cook their catch for the guests upon their return.
3v: Do you measure consumption per guest at your lodge? If yes, please explain how, and provide data
No we do not measure consumption per guest
3w. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?
Here at Footsteps we have a saying which goes, ' There is no waste in nature '
Also see our Coconut Palm Planting Project flyer.
|4. SOCIAL CRITERIA - Rating: 4 out of 5|
4a. Do you provide health insurance and pension to your employees?
4b. Are your employees entitled to paid leave? If so, how many days each year?
Yes , after a 3 month probation period, all staff are entitled to 18days paid leave per annum, please see attached contract of employment.4c. Are your employees entitled to maternity leave? How many months? Is it paid?
Yes, if the employee wants to return to work after the baby is born then we pay 3 months before and 3 months after.
4d. Do you pay your employees above the minimum wage? (Please state minimum wage, and explain)
There does not seem to be a minimum wage in The Gambia as I'm constantly hearing of poor workers who are being paid very little and with no benefits however, each year my manager and myself research what pay grades different professions are being paid in the nearby tourist region of Senegambia and I'm always shocked at how low they are, all this and usually for only 6 months per year and with no benefits. YES we pay significantly more than the minimum wage. Please see attached accounts
4e. What is the total you paid for wages last year? (excluding wages paid to yourself and members of your family)
660,000 Dalasi or @ 42dal/£15,714 per annum
4f. What is the average wage (per annum), the highest wage, and the lowest wage?
Average wage per annum is 30,000 dalasi, the lowest is 24,000 dalasi and the highest wage per annum is 60,000 dalasi, plus tips and benefits
4g. Average and maximum working day, and work hours per week:
Average and maximum working day is 8 hours, average working week 40 hrs, max working week 48hrs
4h. Do you employ your staff all year round? (If not, please explain arrangement)
ALL my staff are salaried and paid all year round
4i. Do you employ immigrants? Are they offered the same remuneration & benefits?
No, all my staff are from the local village of Gunjur
4j. Do you employ trainees? Please explain what type of tasks they perform, how much they are paid, how many hours do they work and how do you source them?
My staff are classed as trainees until they complete their probation period, they work closely with their colleagues for 8 hrs a day, and some trainees complete their probation within a week if they have good aptitude. I t needs to be said my staff have been with me since 2002 at the original build and I don't have many trainees ever.
4k. Do you use volunteers? Please explain what tasks they are given?
No, we don't use volunteers generally, we had some help when we were destroyed in 2007 by a bush fire but that is the only time we had volunteers.
4l. Do you offer concessions to elderly visitors, students, young visitors, or nationals?
Yes , we offer concessions to universities and groups.
4m. Is there infrastructure for people with special needs at your Lodge?
Yes, the lodge is all on one level with access doors wide enough for wheelchair access, also safety features in the bathrooms such as special hand rails and some staff even assign to certain guests if they require extra help.etc.
4n. What measures are in place to protect the local (or the indigenous) population from some adverse impacts of tourism?
We advise our guests with regard local customs, greetings and dress codes whilst in the village.
4o. Do you undertake any poverty reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to poverty reduction?
We work closely with many aid organisations such as The Abubacar Sidique Foundation for Orphaned or Needy Children, we encourage our guests to support such initiatives to help rebuild school roofs and supply learning materials, recently due the high profile of our contributions , the foundation have asked me to sit on their committee.
4p. Do you undertake any inequality reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to inequality reduction?
Our policy is to employ across an entire spectrum regardless of age colour or sex.
4q. Do you undertake any injustice reduction initiatives or does your operation contribute to injustice reduction?
Yes we are vigilant where the rights of an individual are concerned.
4r. What is the minimum, maximum and average age of your current employees (excluding yourself and members of the family)?
Minimum age 22, average age 36 maximum ages 61.
4s. How many employees do you have (excluding yourself and members of the family)?
We have 15 employees.
4t. Is everyone accepted as guests or are there any restrictions?
There are no restrictions other than someone asking to hire a room by the hour.
4u. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?
Monthly prize awards and incentives for my team form an integral part of their working life, a happy team is a good team: (see the video below)
|5. CULTURAL CRITERIA- Rating: 4 out of 5|
5a. Are you located within a village or city, or is there a village or city nearby? (please state name and distance in km or miles)
Within 2 km from Gunjur village
5b. Do guests interact with the local community and how:
Yes, our guests are encouraged to meet with the local people, even going to naming ceremonies, weddings and visiting staff members families for the day, also our guests are encouraged to participate in local sports through the schools etc
5c. What type of information is available to guests at the property:
Info on all local trips run by local guides, birding activities, trips to initiatives such as The Paper Recycling Project.
The video below shows the cultural and religious significance of Tobaski and explains why the Ram is sacrificed:
5d. What type of activities are available to guests at the property:
Seeing a local silversmith, exploring with donkey and cart, batik and tie dye making, our new bird hide for viewing the nature undisturbed, art painting or pottery.
The coconut planting project, see video below, is to raise awareness not only to our guests but to the local community of beach erosion and brings together everyone in an effort to offset the effects of that erosion.
5e. Local guided tours for guests organised by you:
Trips to see the local market, also the fishing boats and fish smoking huts, local art gallery, nearby apiary, visits to the capital city of Banjul
5f. Events / presentations held at the facility so far:
5g. Specific programme for children:
5h. Academic Research and Academic Publications produced or assisted by the property so far:
The Leeds Metropolitan University and Bangor University both use Footsteps as a template for sustainable tourism. Footsteps has also been used as an example at the Norwegian School of Business Management.
5i. Is the local community at all involved in the operation of the Lodge and how?
The local community is very involved at every level, each member of staff belongs to a different tribe each having a connection in the village so for example we only grow a % of the fruit and veg we use , the rest comes from the village, if anyone in the village has an initiative to do something themselves such Amadou's boat trips we support and encourage.
5j. Anything else you would like to mention in this section?
Footsteps was presented with ' The Travelife award for Sustainable Tourism'.
More videos from Footsteps Eco Lodge can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/davidfootsteps/videos
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Your Name: David White
|ECOCLUB.com Rating: 3.8 out of 5 / Rating Date: 19 March 2012|
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