Tourism Host Communities Trained on Alternative Livelihood Options and Ecosystem Conservation

Home / Latest Articles / Tourism Host Communities Trained on Alternative Livelihood Options and Ecosystem Conservation
A common chimpanzee in Murchison falls landscape which is facing threats of habitat destruction resulting from increasing poaching activities due to COVID 19 restrictions

The recent Presidential address on COVID 19 marked the phased opening up of Uganda’s international borders and revival of the country’s tourism industry that had been inactive for close to six months, which had significantly impacted the livelihoods of tourism host communities.

The communities, who largely depend on tourism were left uncertain of how to survive after a national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid 19 halted tourism activities, which pushed communities to encroach on the wildlife habitat areas in search for food and income. 

According to a report by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), there was a significant increase in poaching cases from 163 to over 367 cases, between March and June 2020 as a result of COVID 19 restriction guidelines put in place by government.   

The encroachment largely happened in Murchison falls and Kidepo valley national parks which are 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 Data book.

Mr. Godfrey Owenachan, the UWA warden Murchison falls landscape taking communities through a session during the training in Pakanyi Sub county

In efforts to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystems, on the 6th and 8th of October 2020, Environment Governance Institute (EGI) in partnership with Uganda Wild Life Authority Staff working in Murchison falls landscape with the support of the IUCN Save Our Species which is co-funded by the European Union organized community empowerment trainings for tourism host communities in Pakanyi and Ngwedo sub counties, Masindi and Bullisa districts respectively.

The trainings brought together over 200 participants from 50 households. Participants were taken through topics related to community livelihood options such as climate-smart agriculture for crop growing, horticulture, beekeeping practices, the relevance of conservation in times of crises, and value addition among others. Thanks to UWA, Masindi and Bullisa communities were also enlightened on the 20% revenue share that’s given back to tourism host communities as a government incentive for them to protect the ecosystem.

The trainings were informed by the rapid assessment survey that EGI undertook to ascertain the magnitude and impact of COVID 19 on livelihoods. The assessment enabled EGI conduct trainings based on the competitive advantage within the community, cultural values and practices which increased penetration.

A group photo of communities taken after the training that took place in Pakanyi Sub county Masindi District- Murchison falls landscape

Ms. Alima Rose a beekeeper in Ngwedo sub-county in Bullisa District in her submissions decried the challenges they are facing due to COVID 19 especially in branding and selling of their honey. “It has become extremely difficult for us to sustain our livelihoods. Tourists used to buy our honey in bulk which is not the case for now. This training has opened our eyesto exploring other markets to sustain our household incomes.” 

Tushabe Cristopher in a brief interview after the training asserted that “the community is willing to stop poaching activities however, the challenge is that they lack what to eat and income which pushesthem to risk their lives in the park, but with these kinds of trainings, our capacity has been built to start something sustainable and less risky for ourselves”  

Furthermore, Mr. Godfrey Owenenchan, the UWA representative stated that, “due to the decline in tourism and a reduction in the 20 % revenue sharing from UWA, the communities are now realizing the need to have alternative sustainable sources of income to support their livelihoods, we are happy that you have come on board with these innovations

The training enabled the communities to commit to stop illegal activities in the park, embrace conservation and strengthen the working relationship with EGI in efforts to diversify their livelihoods options which will guarantee ecosystem habitant protection of some of the world’s endangered species in Uganda. 

EGI, therefore, calls for joint efforts across all actors including Government, civil societies, INGOs, and Environmental development partners to jointly work together in diversifying the livelihoods of communities and guarantee the protection of Biodiversity.

By John Peter Okwi, Programs Co-Ordinator Environment Governance Institute (EGI-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