Households of the KabareBatwa Settlement Association in Rukongi parish Nyarusiza Subcounty in Kisoro district have been given sheep to improve their livelihood. The communities were first sensitized and asked to write proposal which were vetted at the parish level.
16 sheep worth shs.1.6 million was given to families by the BwindiMgahingaConservation Trust (BMCT) in conjuction with the Kisoro Local Government officials on 3rdNovember 2016.
The Nyarusiza Community DevelopmentOfficer Kisoro district TumwebazeAnnete said the committee at parish level vetted for six projects and finally three got support after vetting at the sub county level.
According to the Trust Administrator, “Already we have groups to be supported. We spend 150 million shillings on annual basis on community projects. There are 60 projects and of this 17 parishes in Kisoro district, 29 in Kanungu and 14 parishes in Rubanda will benefit”, he said
The sheep were given according to the households. Some families got one sheep and others 2 sheep depending on the size.
The Chairperson KabareBatwa Settlement Association Mrs. FlaviaNyiramugisha hailed BMCT for the donation and appealed to all stakeholders to reconsider resettling the landless Batwa who are currently squatters on government land.
“ Trust committed and has now fulfilled what they promised. But the challenge now is the security of the sheep because most the members have no land nor house to keep them. What members need now is land to build shelter”, he appealed.
The overjoyed polygamous landless Mutwa association member NsabimanaDundu intimated that he was going to tie his sheep on his leg at night to avoid theft. Nsabimanawho is a squatter on government land has two wives and children..
Other interventions to better Batwa livelihoods according to the Nyarusiza Community Development Officer Kisoro district TumwebazeAnnete include Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA).
“20 VSLA Batwa groups were formed and Batwa members have been trained in VSLA methodology. A total of 431 (270 females & 161 males) Batwa were involved. The training involved principles of VSLA, group formation, general assembly, internal rules and regulations, selection of the management committee, book keeping and how to save”, She reported.
She said, the training was conducted to improve group cohesiveness, the community members saving culture, engage members in income generating activities and integrate Batwa with non Batwa such that they can learn from them for improved livelihood.
Tumwebaze observed that the VSLA methodology has benefited both Batwa and non Batwa in groups to pool their own funds as savings, access loans for investing in micro projects for generating sustainable incomes at household level.
“We have come a long way. Batwa are empowered to make decisions during VSLA meetings. The inclusion of Batwa on VSLA executive committees has empowered them to have self-esteem thus able to contribute in decisions making of group matters.
Tumwebaze also said BMCT through VSLA activities has facilitated the integration of the Batwa in main stream society activities and positioned them to benefit from government programs like Operation Wealth Creation,” Tumwebaze said.
Trust Administrator, Dr. Wilson Bamwerinde said the BMCT Improved Livelihood projects impacted strongly on conservation of biodiversity as communities around the park were given bee hives, goats and sheep to improve their food security and nutrition.
Dr.Bamwerinde observed that these initiatives have helped the surrounding communities not to be tempted to go back to the forest as they used to do.
“There are improved agricultural practices and sale of manure from goats and cows which has increased income and food production at household level as evidenced by increased harvests from irish-potatoes”, He went ahead to say that:
“ For example, in NyagisenyiMwakaMusha - Muhire group, Nyagisenyi village, Nyarusiza Sub-county harvested 45 sacks of potatoes, and sold 30 sacks earning 3,000,000 shillings. Members have been able to share 1.5m, save 1.5m, and replanted 15 sacks of irish-potatoes this season”..
A number of Community driven processes for project development relevant to the needs of communities surrounding the parks have been initiated. These according to Dr.Bamwerinde include goat rearing (8 projects), tree nursery management (4 projects ) and bee keeping (8 projects).
“BMCT has provided alternative livelihoods for communities in support to Uganda wildlife Authority for park management activities so that people do not misuse the forests.There is improved nutrition of community members due to increased vegetable growing at household level and aided use of manure from goats, pigs, sheep and cows”, He reported.