Southern Sun Sheds a Light on Sustainability
Originally Published: September 20, 2014
Everyone can have an impact on the world whether it’s through big or small actions – from small hostels, to big hotels. We stayed at the Southern Sun Hotel (part of the Tsogo Sun Group) in both Maputo, Mozambique and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We wanted to stay there because we read that they have a large environmental sustainability program. The company says that “the Tsogo Sun Group recognizes its responsibility for the impacts it has on its surrounding communities and the environment in general.”
Through their business, they focus on:
- minimizing pollution and emissions
- minimizing waste
- reducing the consumption of natural resources
- collaborating with their suppliers and partners.
The properties we visited were on the coast. They were so beautiful and the staff were so incredibly kind and hospitable. When we spoke to the restaurant managers, they both told us that they focused on sustainable fishing practices by not buying fish that are endangered or on the watch list and trying to educate the fishermen not to overfish or sell fish that aren’t yet matured.
The hotel is also very committed to working with local organizations in regards to environmental conservation and community development. I was really happy to meet some of the groups they are partnering with. As much as there is good work they are doing, they need more community partners too. It not only takes the organizations to contribute, but the community to understand what needs improvement. The local governments need to step it up a bit more. Slowly though, every action helps and they are active in the game. In both Maputo and Dar Es Salaam, we found that the communities have been practicing the habit of throwing their trash wherever and didn’t necessarily understand why it’s bad to throw trash on the ground. That’s why it’s important to have people in the community who can educate as well as government and organizations who can implement these programs.
In Maputo, the hotel works with an organization that does beach clean ups. Since they are located on the beachfront, they see the impact that taking care of the ocean has on the community. The hotel also partners with Malaria No More, an organization that focuses on the prevention and treatment of malaria and health education.
In Dar Es Salaam, the hotel works with a few different organizations, and we had the chance to meet some of the amazing people from the projects they partner with. We met with Oyite and Shafi, Co-Founders of Voice Giving ,a youth lead organization that focuses mainly on the environment and does regular clean ups around the city to spread the message that it is possible to have a cleaner city. They also focus on women’s empowerment and education. Voice Giving is on a mission to empower and encourage the communities to make them more aware the environment that surrounds them and make the world a cleaner place to live.
Another project the hotel in Dar Es Salaam works closely with is called Nipe Fagio an advocacy organization that works on spreading awareness for issues that are prevalent in Tanzania. They have many environmental projects such as beach clean ups, solid waste management projects and River clean ups. The volunteer from the organization Yusuph, one of the youth volunteers and a fellow filmmaker, was telling us that they also are working more with youth to educate them about these issues and train them to be community leaders. Mentorship, it a key ingredient to making this work.
One of the things I did when i was at the hotels was to go around and get to know some of the staff by taking their pictures. I would ask them about themselves. I really like connecting with everyone I meet wherever I stay and I find that when you ask people about themselves, they really brighten up. Not that any of the staff at the Southern Sun hotels needed brightening up at all but just the same it’s always nice to show some appreciation by getting to know people.