Eco-architecture and eco-operations

Published: 28 January 2016
Last edited: 15 October 2018

To effectively ensure that tourism operations within the MPA do not damage the surrounding ecosystem, CHICOP has, from its outset, been committed to ecologically sustainable operations and infrastructure. All buildings on the island (7 visitor bungalows, a visitor center and staff quarters) have a rainwater catchment system for shower and tap water, heated by solar power; a vegetative greywater filtration system for wastewater management; photovoltaic power generation and composting toilets. Air-conditioners and other coolants are not required due to the bungalows being positioned to channel winds in line with the predominant seasonal wind directions. Organic waste is composted and reused in the composting toilets. Non-organic waste items are reduced at source (non-acquisition of plastic bags / use of re-fillable containers etc.), and any waste products that are re-useable (such as jars, bottles) are used in-house or decorated and sold as handicrafts. The few remaining waste products are removed from the island. Guests use solar torches at night to avoid light pollution, and all buildings are set-back from the beach, situated at least 4 meters above high-tide mark to avoid potential damage from storm surges and coastal erosion.


Alliance and partnership development
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

  • Eco-technologies emerging onto the market when Chumbe was getting established, and support for importing advanced technological items (photovoltaic panels).
  • Eco-architecture as a new field - the willingness of an expert who conceived the Chumbe design combined with the openness of Chumbe to experiment with new architecture, resulted in the Chumbe eco-lodge.
  • The efforts of the local artisans and builders to embrace and learn new concepts and skills.
  • Learning & adapting along the way.

Lessons learned

Most systems have worked well throughout, however, the following challenges were encountered:

  • Eco-technologies were not only unknown to local builders, but there was also little experience available on their functioning under tropical island conditions, requiring creative solutions-based approaches to maintenance issues over time.
  • From 1994-1997 Zanzibar suffered an energy crisis that created shortages of fuel and cement on the local market. This complicated the building process and contributed to enormous delays. Building operations lasted altogether over four years instead of the one-year originally planned. As a consequence, investment costs soared and the price structure had to be adjusted to aim more upmarket.
  • Some technologies, in particular photovoltaics and greywater vegetative filtration were challenging to operate and maintain and have needed several interventions by experts.

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