Nov 27, 2015

Batwa: Ugandan Government Urged to Ensure a Better Representation for Minorities

The Batwa minority living in Uganda called on their national government to support their proposal to ensure a better representation of minorities’ interests. Presenting this proposal, Mr Joseph Obwa, coordinator of the Batwa families network in the country, stressed the need for more representation to have a real chance to be heard in national policy and decision-making on issues of concern, such as resettlement and access to better education.


Below is an article published by Daily Monitor:

The Batwa (pygmies) from Bwindi forest in south western Uganda have asked government to grant them slots in Parliament one of the special interest groups.

The minority ethnic group says if granted, they will get a voice in policy formulation and decision-making. Minority tribes in Uganda include the Batwa, the Benet, Bagungu, Bakenyi and Ik.

Mr Joseph Obwa, the head of Batwa families, speaking in Kanungu District last Friday, said if government approves of their proposal, the Batwa family will sit and select their representatives in Parliament on a rotational basis.

“We need to have representatives because since we left the (Echuya Forest Reserve) in 1991, government made numerous promises and none has been fulfilled because we lack a representative in Parliament,” Mr Obwa said.

He listed some of the issues that have been ignored by MPs as resettlement, infrastructure development, provision of better health services and access to better education. “We left the forest but we are still suffering,” Mr Obwa said.

Mr Mugabe Robert the Executive director of African Adventure travelers Uganda said that Pygmies are only helped when tourists have gone there to do their community work because majority of local guides come from Batwa communities.

“Government convinced them to provide every service but all in vein it’s only the tourists companies that have managed to provide some help for them. They are still very poor without permanent land”, Mr Mugabe said.

He urged government to look into their issues and appoints a committee that can interact with pygmies and get developed.

“They only get money when Visitors buy their handcraft and enjoys their culture dances and performance but if not that their condition is worrying,” Mr Mugabe added.

However he said they have a challenge of market which also affects the Batwa people. According to him, when the season they face a challenge of inadequate food supply.

Photo courtesy of Daily Monitor