Kisoro district leadership has expressed skepticism on the manner in which Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) distributes the annual revenue sharing programme funds.
Top district leaders say the money does not reach the intended beneficiaries; who comprise poor local communities bordering Bwindi National Park, who continue to wallow in abject poverty.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the home of Uganda’s rare Mountain Gorillas, monkeys and other wildlife.
Abel Bizimana, Kisoro district Chairman said:” UWA drives community processes of dealing plans with targeted communities. The money is earmarked and goes directly to relevant sub counties but the procurement of these development inputs has been an issue. Things are silently done there”
“Bafumbira majority eat once a day, can’t afford ordinary syrup for a sick child and may not go to deliver at a health centre. Children go to school with torn uniforms. I talk for those families who have got a natural resource Bwindi that is being enjoyed by one section of powerful leaders. I stand for families who come to probation office with infants who have spent weeks running away from abusive male partners and few people mind. I marvel at people who act like they are holy but can’t open their mouths to social injustices they are paid to fight. Go ahead and pretend, me I won’t”, Bizimana said, in a comment he posted on his Facebook page.
UWA last week handed over cheques worth Shs 4.4 billion under the revenue sharing scheme to communities surrounding Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area. The cheques were handed over by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu to the district leaders of Kisoro, Kanungu and Rubanda at the Bwindi Conservation Area head office in Buhoma.
Kamuntu said: “We are giving this money in recognition of the important role that communities play in our conservation efforts; we believe that we cannot effectively conserve wildlife without the support of the communities”.
The UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha described the event as historic and in line with the UWA mission.
“I am pleased with the release yet another sum of these funds, which include 20 per cent park entry fees and $10 per gorilla tracking permit sold in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This money will improve the livelihoods of communities and alleviate poverty” said Mwandha.