Research conducted to establish the impact of tourism in Kanungu district has found that communities around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are not benefiting from government revenue sharing projects.
The tourism revenue sharing project is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and local government administrations. Through it 20 percent of annual gate entry fees into national parks is given to the communities neighboring protected areas. It is intended for school and health center construction, roads, income-generating activities and wildlife conservation efforts.
At the end of 2008 Uganda Wildlife Authority reported that since the initiation of the revenue sharing scheme, more than 30 community projects were supported.
However the impact of the scheme is limited on the ground.
Research by Humanitarian Care Uganda and the non-governmental organization Enterprise, Environment and Equity in the Great Lakes found that not enough is being done to directly change the lives of communities around Bwindi.
The research was conducted in six Kanungu sub-counties and 204 households of possible beneficiaries were interviewed.
82% of the respondents had no knowledge of the revenue sharing scheme and had never benefited from community projects. The remaining respondents, most of the local council leaders, knew of the scheme but didn't fully understand how it worked.
Charles Atuhe, a facilitator with Humanitarian Care Uganda, says these sentiments were echoed in Kabale and Kisoro, the two other districts expected to benefit from mountain gorilla tours. He says there opinion of the communities is that senior district officials either swindled or misuse the money.
Atuhe says government needs to be more transparent about the amount of money collected and the process of revenue sharing.