Uganda Wildlife Authority has disbursed funds worth UGX 929,269,487 for the year 2015/2016 to benefit districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rubirizi, Mitooma, Rukungiri, Kanungu and Ibanda as part of the 20% gate collections given back to the communities for conservation.
At a ceremony organized by UWA to formally handover this money at Mweya lodge, the Executive Director Dr. Seguya Andrew noted the need for the communities to protect wildlife.
Before the Wildlife statute which later became the Wildlife Act Cap 200 of 2000, communities neighbouring the National Parks were not benefitting from park revenues.
The revenue sharing programme is meant to strengthen partnerships between local communities, local governments and management of wildlife areas leading to sustainable management of wildlife resources in protected areas.
Over 3 billion shillings has been given to the neighbouring communities in Revenue share alone for the last three years. Apart from revenue however, there other collaborative programs where communities benefit directly from the National Park. These include resource access such as fuel wood, grass, water, fish, bee keeping etc. Such resource off take from the park is valued at over 400million shillings per annum.
The Revenue sharing programme has supported a number of projects since its inception. Projects such as construction of classroom blocks in schools like Lake Katwe secondary school, Hamukungu primary school, Kamukumbi primary school, Kawocha vocational secondary school, Katunguru primary school were successful.
The construction of healthy units such as Nyakera, Mahyoro, Kitonzi, Katunguru, Kahendero, Kayanja was done with the help of this revenue.
Health centers II and digging of trenches around the park like in areas of Rwehingo, Isango, Kyabakara, Kichwamba, Bukorwe was done.
Crocodile/water fetching cages in Katwe to keep communities safe from these reptiles as people access water was put in place as a result.
Bee Keeping for livelihoods in areas of Kyarusandara, Kyaranga, Rweshama, Kayanja, Railway ward, Irimya, Kazinga is still on going.
Apart from the money, the Park has been supporting communities in employment of their children, providing market for their food crops and handcrafts.
The Executive Director therefore argued the district leaders to join hands with UWA and manage negative practices like poaching, late and wrong accountabilities so that communities continue to enjoy the benefits accruing from the Park.
He reiterated UWA's commitment to collect and disburse these funds to help the people around the national parks.
On his part, UWA Chair Board of Trustee, Mr. Otto Benjamin argued districts leaders to sensitize the communities to love Queen Elizabeth National Park and its wildlife. "Poaching should stop if we are to continue sharing Revenue. This park is gazetted to benefit the people and future generations and we should jealously protect it and the wildlife therein," he emphasized.
He explained that revenue shared funds are meant to improve the livelihoods of the people living around Protected Areas, especially those who bear the costs of conservation and live in parishes that touch the borders of the parks.
At the close of the ceremony, each local government representative of the each of the 7 districts was handed a dummy cheque to signify the money to be channeled to the communities.