Uganda Wildlife Authority marked this year’s World Tourism day national celebrations held in Mbarara in style by giving out a total of 175 million shillings to the communities adjacent to Lake Mburo National Park under the revenue agreement .
The Uganda Wildlife Act of 2000 mandates the wildlife agency remit 20% of the park entry revenue collections with the local governments touching the park boundaries per annum.
The prime minister of the Republic of Uganda,Mr. Ruhakana Rugunda presided over the function which was witnessed by the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu as well as the state minister Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi.
A member of the UWA Board of Trustees Eng. Ivan Mbabazi Batuma declared the funds from the park entrance for the year 2014/15.The premier then handed over the cheques to the leaders of the local governments amidst excitement.
Of the funds disbursed, Mbarara Municipal Council received 11,033,390/=,Isingiro District Local Government took home 74,963,193/= and Kiruhura 89,369,900/=
The funds will be used to implement development projects to empower the communities and improve livelihoods in the affected communities. Some of them include construction of water dams at Rushororo and Akaku in Kanyaryeru sub county, opening Rwabarata –Kakunyu community access road in Rwamuranda parish.
In Sanga sub county, the funds will support Kiribwa United poultry scheme, Rwamuhuku community conservation Association (crafts and entertainment),bull fattening in Nombe II by Abatatana Group and goat rearing in Kigarama Abakundaine Group.
According to Mr. Asa Kule Musinguzi, the chief Park Warden, Lake Mburo, the funds will also support provision of piped water to Byembogo cell in Sanga Town council(Kizimbi ward)communities to fence valley tanks constructed with support from AWF-USAID in Rurambira(Nyakashashara sub county ,construction of Akatooma community P. School (Nyakahita).
In Isingiro District, projects to benefit include completion of a classroom block at Rukuuba PS, maintenance of Kyenjonjo road in Rwentango parish, a heifer project in Kyarugaju,Kabingo sub county and goat rearing in Ihunga parish among others.
Other projects in Isingiro include piggery, goat rearing and bull rearing in Mirambiro parish of Rushasha sub county while in Rugaaga Sub County, there will be completion of a classroom and office block for Kiretwa Mixed PS as well as support to Kaswina Valley Drama Actors.
Last year,Lake Mburo NP disbursed a total sum of Uganda shillings 455,957,607. Of this, Kiruhura district received 232,364,162 shillings; Isingiro district 194,906,332 shillings and Mbarara District 28,687,113 shillings for implementation of identified projects.
The national park receives on average 26,000 visitors per annum generating approximately 200 Million shillings as mandatory 20% revenue share to the neighbouring communities/ Local Governments under (Section 69(4) of the Uganda Wildlife Act Cap 200 of 2000). This is annually disbursed to frontline communities to implement approved projects in line with revenue sharing guidelines.
The outcome of the implemented projects is expected to be improved livelihoods and reduced human wildlife conflicts that maybe pertaining to any given protected area.
In order to create a bond between the frontline communities, community leaders and protected area management, and to contribute to the overall development of the districts, the revenue sharing guidelines require that the projects are integrated in the respective development plans and funds are disbursed through the district to ensure effective monitoring by the leadership. The ultimate goal of Revenue Sharing programmes to achieve community support for wildlife conservation.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has also embarked in improving visitation to this national park by approving more investment in accommodation, partnering with ACCA to construct Enyemebwa Centre for cultural tourism and translocation giraffe to the area. We hope the next disbursement of Revenue sharing funds will be much more than what has been given out this year .
UWA is aware of the challenges being faced by the communities especially in Kiruhura district by presence of wild animals on their land and all efforts are being exerted to use various strategies to ensure that this challenge is overcome over time.
These strategies include but not limited to: translocation, sport-hunting, establishing conservancies, habitat management, encouraging able individuals to undertake wildlife ranching and having in place a specialized team to handle problem animals.