Bundibugyo district has resettled members of the Batwa community from Semuliki National Park. This follows reports by the district natural resources department and Uganda Wildlife Authority that the Batwa were cutting down trees and poaching on animals in the Semliki national park.
Bundibugyo district has started resettling about 80 members of the Batwa community from Semuliki National Park. This follows reports by the district natural resources department and Uganda Wildlife Authority that the Batwa were cutting down trees and poaching on animals in the Semliki national park.
Three years ago, the Batwa were removed from Semuliki and resettled by a local NGO, Rural Welfare Improvement for Development (RWIDE), under a Shillings 500 million World Bank funded project. RWIDE was supposed to build semi-permanent houses for 40 Batwa. However, only 10 houses were constructed, leaving majority of the Batwa homeless. This forced many of them to return to the national park.
Since the beginning of this year, the district has been constructing semi-permanent houses for the Batwa and some have occupied part of the 60 houses in Ntandi Sub County. Godfrey Suza, the Bundibugyo district natural resources coordinator, says that the houses were constructed at a cost of 250 million shillings.
According to Suza, the funds used to construct the houses were allocated to the Natural Resources and Community development department in the 2011/2012 financial year. Suza also says that they were forced to resettle the Batwa because they had erected temporary huts in the game reserves, which was scaring away animals. He notes that the resettlement is a gradual process and they hope to complete it before the end of this year.
Suza says that more funds will be allocated in the 2012/2013 financial year for resettlement.
But Steven Nsinyabo, the chairperson of the Batwa Community, says that although he welcomes the resettlement, the district should also construct a school and health centre for them. Nsinyabo says that they face difficulties accessing health facilities and schools for their children because they move long distances to Bundibugyo town, where the facilities are.
He says that some of the Batwa are earning income by selling crafts to tourists, after they were allowed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Anthropologists believe that the Batwa are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Central Africa.
They settled in the area that is now western Uganda, Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo before the arrival of the Bantu or Nilotics.
semuliki national park