STATEMENT BY UWA ED AT THE HAD OVER OF ROAD EQUIPMENT BY USAID/AWF ON OCTOBER 21,2015.
I am greatly honoured to warmly welcome you to this brief ceremony where we have witnessed the official hand over of assorted road equipment to Uganda Wildlife Authority by the USAID through the African Wildlife Foundation. There is no doubt that this valuable equipment will go a long way to improve our capacity to manage Uganda’s biodiversity so that our country’s ecologically significant natural resources are better protected, particularly in and around the protected areas. As you are already aware, most protected areas including Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, Queen Elizabeth national parks are vast in area, and yet UWA is solely responsible for opening and maintenance of the entire road network therein. The roads and tracks are critical for park management activities, including ecological monitoring, law enforcement and tourism. Road maintenance is quite expensive and therefore UWA has chosen to establish its own road maintenance units in some of the parks with a long road network. UWA last purchased road equipment in 2001/02 and these are now completely depreciated, making repairs expensive with several unserviceable. Without good roads, management of the protected areas becomes difficult, more expensive and threats to wildlife increase as the staff are unable to address them in a timely manner. Activities such as patrols and monitoring are often hardest hit. It is necessary that a number of roads to be used for deploying patrols and undertaking various monitoring activities be opened and maintained. Honourable minister and distinguished guests This intervention by USAID through AWF to support UWA in procuring road construction and maintenance equipment to replace the old stock, and increase capacity for road maintenance could not have come at a better time. Apart from opening and maintaining roads for monitoring and patrols, they will also be used for fire management by opening up fire breaks, and human wildlife conflict mitigation through digging of trenches to deter elephants and other large mammals from getting out of the parks. The new equipment will also be handy in the excavation of water dams, particularly in Kidepo Valley National Park, which will keep the wildlife in the protected areas from straying into community land in search of water points. The large size of the parks and the limited infrastructural development within the conservation areas often makes it difficult for UWA staff to effectively patrol and manage the entire width and breadth of the parks. In order to improve effectiveness of patrols and park management, a number of roads for deploying patrols have to be opened. Distinguished Guests Uganda Wildlife Authority has enjoyed a long history of partnership with USAID and AWF. Apart from the infrastructure development equipment, the USAID Uganda Conservation for Biodiversity Program has offered staff training and monitoring equipment for actual acquisition of data. The monitoring equipment is used for data capture and for managing problem animals in order to understand the dynamics of the population and undertake relevant actions to enhance mitigate threats and reduce human wildlife conflicts. As part of ensuring the monitoring system is fully functional in LMNP, MFNP and KVNP, additional monitoring equipment, on top of those procured earlier by the Tourism for Biodiversity Program, have been provided to UWA. They included 50 GPS, 30 cameras, 20 range finders and 7 sets of weather mini-station equipment. The numbers were based on required equipment identified with UWA for proper ecological monitoring. A number of Staff has also been trained in their use and maintenance. On behalf of Uganda Wildlife Authority, I would like to pledge total commitment to proper utilisation and maintenance of the multi- million dollar road construction and maintenance equipment .The assorted equipment comprise one grader, one bulldozer, one excavator, one vibro roller, 2 tippers and one low bed transporter. In line with the project objectives, UWA will certainly use the equipment to open more roads especially in Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Parks to areas where poaching has been a menace and use the roads for quick deployment to address this challenge. We are also looking forward to receiving the rest of the equipment to be delivered in the next few weeks. Once again, I thank you for having honoured our invitation at short notice to witness this handover ceremony and wish you a safe journey back to your respective destinations. Conserving for Generations