Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director Sam Mwandha together with some members of UWA’s top management on July, 15, 2020 hosted five Ambassadors from the European Union (EU) lead by H.E. Attilio Pacifici the Head of EU Delegation in Uganda. Executive Director Sam Mwandha thanked the European Union (EU) for the continued support extended to the institution over the years that has seen many infrastructural development and stuff trainings supported to address conservation of wildlife challenges in the organisation. He informed the EU that UWA like many other agencies of government is grappling with insufficient resources to finance its operations as a result of COVID 19 pandemic that has hit all global economies.
Mwandha emphasized that the few resources the organisation can afford have been prioritised to deal with areas such as human wildlife conflict, invasive species and electric fencing in Queen Elizabeth that will continue on a scaled down rate. “The population increase of the people has unfortunately led to the clearance of habitats outside the national parks and wildlife reserves that used to harbour additional wildlife and yet population numbers of animals are on the rise,” the ED emphasized.
On behalf of EU, H.E Attilio Pacifici reaffirmed EU’s commitment to support wildlife development in the country and argued UWA to continue doing the great work it has always done despite the current crisis of Corona virus hitting the agency and economy. Other member States of the EU acknowledged the positive strides undertaken by the institution to manage wildlife in Uganda and argued it to diversify more on the tourism products to keep visitors flocking the country with more revenue collection for sustainability. The Union agreed to engage more on areas that help revamp the sector and ensure that normal operations are restored in the post COVID-19 era.
In the discussions, members acknowledged that Uganda was well endowed uniquely and there is need to have deliberate efforts to protect this national heritage and safe guard the unique treasures COVID 19 notwithstanding. The delegation thanked UWA for the strong collaboration with communities and emphasized that conservation cannot be done in isolation but with the host communities of the protected areas that need to understand and feel its benefits.
Other issues discussed included tourism promotion and what the EU and Individual countries can do to help in promoting Uganda in Europe. The need to open the airport and make it a requirement for visitors to undergo COVID-19 test in their countries and having a rapid testing of visitors on arrival in Uganda was highlighted as key to revamping tourism. They called upon Uganda to brand the country as a safe destination given the zero COVID-19 deaths and recovery rate that would add value to marketing the destination in the post COVID era.