As Uganda continues to slowly open up reviving tourism activities, tourism dependant host communities continue to grapple with the impacts of the covid 19 imposed lockdown that saw a halt in tourism and resultant loss of livelihoods. Therefore, an informed recovery plan and community resilience strategies are important and should be put in place for host communities to have other income generation ventures and also to save Uganda’s fragile wildlife from poaching vices and illegal wildlife trade.
In this attempt, Environmental Governance Institute (EGI) in partnership with UWA and with support from IUCN Save our Species co-funded with European Union Launched a project titled “Empowering communities for sustainable livelihoods and Ecosystem conservation during and post Covid-19”, the project has already taken its deep roots of engagement with tourism host communities of Ngwedo and Pakanyi sub-counties located in Bulisa and Masindi district respectively, neighboring the Murchison’s falls landscape.
To date, the project has reached about 200 community members and 50 households through the two capacity building trainings conducted so far. Participants were drawn from aforementioned districts whose livelihoods are largely dependent on tourism and that where left uncertain of how to survive after a national lockdown was imposed which halted tourism activities. Women group representative, park scouts at Paraa, sub-county officials, UWA rangers, LC1 chairpersons, tourism youth representatives, selected district representatives, and selected members from beekeeping groups participated and graced the training.
EGI seeks to work with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), to reduce poaching cases that had risen from 163 in 2019 to over 367 cases during the Covid-19.This will be through building the capacity of host communities to adopt alternative livelihoods, such as bee keeping, train them on bee product value chain, introduce an Environment defender toll-free line to bridge communication gaps between community and key actors, train women groups on organic catering, sensitize them on the linkage between biodiversity conservation and their livelihoods in PAs and empower cultural institutions to protect biodiversity
Therefore, the ultimate goal will be improved livelihoods and reduced encroachment on Murchison falls Landscape which is habitat to a diverse ecosystem of wildlife including African elephants, lions, Rothschild’s giraffes, Uganda Kob, chimpanzees, and other species categorized as endangered and vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List Datebook.
Therefore, EGI call upon joint efforts across all actors including Government, civil societies, INGOs, and Environmental development partners to work together in diversifying the livelihoods of communities and guarantee the protection of Biodiversity.
Carol Akello Program Officer, Environment Governance Institute Uganda
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Environment Governance Institute and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union