livelihood empowerment of tourism communities, key to Biodiversity Conservation

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As the news on Covid-19 vaccines awakens hope for the Nation in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector in Uganda is still projected to remain in a survival mode until well by 2022 when international tourism, which had fallen by 80% in 2020, rises to its boom. This still leaves the tourism dependent host communities grappling to recover from their disrupted livelihoods, which poses a wave of threats to the   Biodiversity in the Park Ecosystems surrounding them.

Consequently, on the 25thJanuary 2021, Environment Governance Institute (EGI) in partnership with Uganda Wild life Authority organized a Capacity building training  on adoption of sustainable livelihoods options among  tourism communities in Kigumba sub county in Kiryandongo district. The training drew about 63 participant which included the various bee keeping groups, former tour guides, Farmers group representatives, religious leaders, local government and UWA officials that graced the meeting

The training was part of the continuous effort by EGI in its mandate of empowering tourism host communities to adopt alternative sustainable livelihood options and Ecosystem conservation of Murchison Falls Landscape during and post covid-19 period, a project which is currently   roll out in five districts of Masindi, Bulisa, Kiryandongo, Kibaale, and Hoima, funded by IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union.  

In October 2020, same trainings were conducted which  reaped tangible livelihood outcomes in sub counties of Ngwedo and Pakanyi in Bulisa and Masindi respectively, amazingly over 500 community members have been reached through a dedicated knowledge transfer team  of 50 community champions who were identified and who trained on value chains in bee keeping, Smart Agriculture, Agro-forestry and current policies regarding protection of the Murchison Falls landscape and hence opened community spaces in the fight against poaching.

To-date, communities in Pakanyi surrounding Budongo forest and Murchison falls are literally reaping from the bee keeping. Notably, Mr. Isura Isaac one of the EGI community Champions in Kimina upper apiary group neighboring budongo   forest thanked EGI for empowering him, “I can now benefit from honey propolis from where am making medicine that treats ulcer, cough, fever and skin rushes” this is generating income for my family and he urged EGI to continuously boost his honey project so that he can Employ over 30 youth, a move that will to divert them from encroaching the park for their livelihoods.

Mr. Isura Isaac (with the hat) , Key EGI community champion organizing some of his bee hive  during EGI monitoring visit to his project at Kimina upper bee keeping site in Masindi.

EGI seeks to scale up rapid livelihoods empowerments around communities in Kigumba 1 parish surrounding protected zones of Murchison falls, with ultimate goal of reducing encroachment through partnership with UWA.

Therefore, a call for partnership with other Civil Societies to come up  with essential approaches that reactivate tourism community livelihoods, coupled with robust Government involvement in devising more   efficient international co-ordination systems to revive the tourism industry and immediate response strategies to save the sensitive Ecosystem from future shocks.  

 By John Peter Okwi, Programs Officer, Environment Governance Institute

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