The Project was established by Dominik Beissel (Mareja Management Ltd) 15 years ago with the Mareja Community. Dominik now runs the project jointly with his wife Sophie. Around 50 people live at Mareja and 20 actively work for the project. A women’s group forms when the work in the fields has finished for the year. They are currently making beautiful terrocota floor tiles, which have formed the floor in the new eco lodges and much paving elsewhere. They are on sale in Pemba.
In the last 15 years a great deal has been achieved, creating infrastructure, developing accommodation and building up community ownership. Many people have helped over the years lending their hands, energy and spirit to the place, and the hard work is visible everywhere.
The Community is represented through a ‘Council of Elders’ and the legally registered and recognised Association, Associacao de Camponeses de Mareja (ACM). The ‘Association of Countrymen’ of Mareja was founded in 2000. This constituted an important legal step in the realisation of the project. All major decisions are discussed and agreed at community level and implemented within a system of active participation. Members of the Mareja community hold all major positions within the project and thus all land and security related issues are dealt with internally.
The ACM and Mareja Managment Ltd, the Investor, have a fifty year maintaining tile over the land and surrounding infrastructure and hold equal shares in the project.
All funds derived from tourism activities go directly back to the ACM. An incentive scheme for spotting game has proved successful - a small fee is paid by tourists directly to the ranger for game spotted.