Residents of Koch Goma Sub County in Nwoya district are full of smiles following the completion and commissioning of a hostel facility valued at 136 million shillings got from Murchison Falls National Park as revenue sharing funds for the year 2013/14.
The funds are part of the 448 million shillings received by Nwoya district which borders Uganda’s largest national park.
Mr. Patrick Okello Oryema the chairman of the Nwoya District Local Government says similar projects have been undertaken in Purongo and Amuru sub counties including a classroom block, a cultural centre and support to a vocational skills centre in Koch Goma.
Commissioning the Hostel facility at Koch Goma Secondary School on Wednesday (October 1,2014),Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Board of Trustees chairman, Mr. Benjamin Otto said he was happy that the money had been put to good use and the facility would go a long way to improve learning conditions for the students in that community.
The board chairman promised that UWA will continue disbursing the 20% of all national park entrance funds to the communities neighbouring protected areas in time as soon as a new financial year starts. He thanked the district leadership for their passion in conserving wildlife as their natural resource, and pledged that a number of mechanisms would be devised to ensure plantation raids by stray animals from the park.
The chairman LC 5, Nwoya earlier noted that the communities appreciate tangible projects like schools instead of livestock scheme which was mismanaged.
The manager, Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA)Mr. Tom Okello appreciated the support extended by the Nwoya community in preserving the integrity of the protected area and advised the students against getting involved in illegal activities like hunting for game meat lest such tangible projects stop coming.
Below is the full speech by the Board of Trustees chairman
I am greatly honoured to have been invited to officiate at this important function of commissioning an important facility which will go a long way in improving the quality of education for our children.
Allow me to deliver warm greetings from the Board of Trustees of Uganda Wildlife Authority, of which I am privileged to be the chair, as well as Management and staff, most of whom would have wished to personally be here, but have not made it due to other pressing commitments.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the school management, the Koch Goma Community and the entire leadership of Nwoya district, upon this life time achievement, which is a result of a harmonious relationship existing between Uganda Wildlife Authority, in particular, Murchison Falls National Park and you the population neighbouring it who have exhibited passion for conservation of wildlife.
I am happy that the construction of this multi million shilling facility(136,000,000/=) was made possible with funds disbursed by Murchison Falls National Park under Revenue Sharing scheme. It gives me pleasure to learn that you have shown a leading example by putting these funds to good use in order to improve the livelihoods of your community.
Uganda Wildlife Authority is committed to implementing strategies that will improve the relationship between the communities neighbouring the protected areas and the national parks management, since we together are entrusted with the obligation of preserving our natural heritage.
In the last financial year alone, 2013/14, UWA disbursed a total of 448 million shillings to Nwoya district, up from 81 million shillings in 2010 and 107 million shillings in 2009.
Earlier in 2008, a total of 100 million shillings was disbursed for construction of Koch Goma elephant trench to stop elephants from raiding community plantations while in 2007 this area benefitted from a 74 million shilling release in revenue sharing.
I am also aware that before the creation of Nwoya as an independent entity, more revenues used to be disbursed to the greater Amuru district and I am sure they were put to good use in terms of improving livelihoods and mitigating the human-wildlife conflict.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
On top of the funds disbursed to the communities under revenue sharing, I am also aware that under sport hunting program, the stake holders in the Aswa-Lolim Area have had extra benefits. For instance, this community earned a total of 4,522 US dollars in 2010, US dollars 2,560 in 2011, US dollars 870 in 2012 and US dollars 3,080 in 2013.
I am honoured to state that it is also our deliberate policy to ensure that communities neighbouring protected areas like you, get the first priority in employment by the authority as wardens, rangers and other support staff, labourers in the digging of elephant trenches and other forms of indirect benefits like sale of products to the hotels, crafts and other items to the visitors.
Uganda Wildlife Authority continues to put in place a number of interventions to minimise the human wildlife conflict through
• Digging of elephant trenches along the boundary with the national park to stop elephant raids on the plantations
• Training wildlife scouts to monitor, manage and drive back stray animals to the protected areas
• The Red chilli cakes, burnt oil and repellent strings to repulse elephants
• Traditional scare shooting to chase the stray animals to the protected areas.
We are also strengthening community based wildlife conflict mitigation methods by use of community scouts who are trained and equipped to handle problem animals, deployment of more rangers at the Protected Area-Community interface.
As I conclude, I would like to appeal to the Nwoya leadership and the community to work with us to:
-Resolve the boundary conflicts at Agung to enable UWA plan for trench along this line. Some farmers have been contesting the boundary line in that area and yet the boundary has not been changed since 1952.
-We also request for political good will and support to address the human wildlife conflicts.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I conclude by pledging unwavering commitment from UWA board and management towards working with the communities neighbouring the protected areas in conserving our God given resources, through harmonious co-existence.
I now take this singular honour to officially commission this hostel facility constructed with support from the revenues disbursed by UWA under the revenue sharing scheme.
Conserving for Generations