Jul 30, 2011

Batwa: Asking Government For Land Following Eviction

Batwa ask for land to maintain their traditional livelihoods as struggle with poverty after eviction from national parks.

Below is an article published by New Vision:

The Batwa community, a minority group living in Kisoro district, have asked the Government to give them land and houses. This follows their eviction from Bwindi impenetrable national park in 1991. 

Elias Habyarimana, the chairperson of the Batwa in Kabale, Kisoro and Kanungu districts said: “Government evicted us with no alternative. We are living on the streets of Kisoro town with no food.” 

Habyarimana was speaking at the launch of Bwindi community map on Wednesday 

The Government evicted the Batwa from the national park as a conservation measure. The game park is home to the mountain gorillas. 

The map documents parts of the park, its biodiversity and the Batwa traditional knowledge. 

It can also be used to monitor, evaluate and promote protected areas. 

The map shows caves, gold sites, burial sites, hotsprings grinding stones, medicinal plants and forbidden places in the park. 

Joan Singakaya, 70, a member of the community, called for the preservation of Batwa language and culture. 

The Batwa also demanded free access to medicinal trees and their ancestral worship places in the parks. 

They also want to benefit from government programmes like the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS). 

Kisoro district chairperson Milton Mutabazi said the Batwa were not stopped from using the forest, but were allowed to carry out limited activities in the park. 

Pontious Ezuma, an official at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, said the authority had started a project that would create jobs for the Batwa. 

Christopher Kamara, secretary for works, water and technical services in Kanungu district, said the Batwa living in camps in the district were given free treatment and land.