The management of Uganda Wildlife Authority on Thursday declared and disbursed a total of 513,773,660 shillings to the seven districts bordering Queen Elizabeth Protected Area in western Uganda, as part of the benefits to the communities under the Revenue sharing arrangement for the financial year 2014/15.
The seven districts include Rubirizi 104,381,427 /=; Kasese 175,809,038/=, Kamwenge 72,987,664/=, Kanungu 41,707,236/=, Rukungiri 57,385,229/=, Ibanda 21,646,966 /= and Mitooma district 39,856,100 /=, for implementation of identified projects.
The function was held at the Queen Elizabeth National Park headquarters,, Katunguru,in Rubirizi district and presided over by the UWA Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya. It was also witnessed by the Rubirizi RDC Mr. Kule Muranga Joseph and the Chief Administrative Offices from the seven districts who received their cheques.
Dr. Seguya told the communities and stake holders that Uganda Wildlife Authority has been sharing revenue with adjacent local governments and communities since 2000 in accordance with Section 69(4) of the Wildlife Act Cap 200 states: “The board shall, subject to section 22(3), pay 20 percent of the park entry fees collected from a wildlife protected area to the local government of the area surrounding the wildlife protected area from which the fees were collected”.
The overall goal of revenue sharing is to ensure strong partnership between protected areas management, local communities and local governments leading to sustainable management of resources in and around protected areas by enabling people living adjacent to protected areas obtain financial benefits derived from the existence of these areas that contribute to improvements in their welfare and help gain their support for protected areas conservation.
Specifically, revenue sharing is intended to achieve the following objectives: To provide an enabling environment for establishing good relations between the protected areas and their neighboring local communities, demonstrate the economic value of protected areas and conservation in general to communities neighboring protected areas and strengthen the support and acceptance for protected areas and conservation activities from communities living adjacent to these areas.
Since 2003, the park has so far disbursed UG X 3,389,004,964 (read: three billion three hundred eighty nine million and four thousand nine hundred sixty four shillings only) to support various community projects ranging from infrastructure development, provision of social services, special projects such as study tours, livelihood projects and human wildlife conflict mitigation
The projects funded from revenue share focus on livelihood support of communities to demonstrate socio – economic value of our protected areas and mitigation of human wildlife conflict by supporting interventions to minimize damage caused by problem animals
The UWA management urged the district leaders to ensure that these projects will be expeditiously implemented, create desired impact and enlist community support for wildlife conservation. I urge districts to ensure value for money and effectively monitor implementation of these projects so that these projects benefit intended beneficiaries
Dr. Seguya assured the leaders that UWA will continue to collaborate with districts in fulfillment of its mandate of sustainable wildlife management of wildlife in the country
In continuing to enrich the visitor experience, Dr. Seguya said Uganda Wildlife Authority is undertaking construction of ultra modern gates including one at Kabatoro, and the process of procuring new state of the art launches for memorable boat rides on Kazinga Channel is nearing completion.
On top of this, Uganda Wildlife Authority has procured modern tourist coaches/buses which will be strategically stationed in various places of the country to transport organised groups to and from the national parks including this one at friendly rates. We hope this will increase accessibility and visitation thereby promoting domestic tourism for people to enjoy their own God given heritage.