Uganda Wildlife Authority on 30th October passed out yet another intake of 20 Intelligence staff at Uganda People’s Defence Forces School of Military Intelligence and Security in Migyera. This was the first phase of the 100 that will be trained. The specialised training by UPDF equipped the trainees with critical skills in analysis and critical thinking. The capacity building done in the ranger force is hoped to deal poaching a huge blow and any form of insecurity in our protected areas. The course was intended to enhance skills in of the trainees in Critical thinking, analysis and report writing to support decision making in the organisation. The intention is for the leaners to practically apply the skills attained in the field to combat wildlife crime.
While commissioning the staff, Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director Sam Mwandha emphasized that Uganda’s Tourism was nature based and therefore its success depended on conservation of wildlife among other factors such as security and good infrastructure. He explained that until the effects of COVID-19, tourism was the leading foreign exchange earner in the country. We are very optimistic that the industry will recover soon.
The Executive Director observed that much as training was a key component of one’s growth, especially if you are determined to succeed and climb the ranks, it is not all you need to succeed. “You need to also use the knowledge you have gained from the training to show your competence in the assignments you are given. I have followed the planning and preparation as well as the implementation of this training and are aware that your trainers gave guidance to you to be critical thinkers and analytical. One of the weakness of many employees is to stop thinking because they have an Afande, whom they expect to think and analyse every single issue for them,” he noted.
He argued the trainees not to get distracted when they complete their training by thinking only about a promotion and emphasized that only critical thinkers and those who try to analyse issues are the ones who grow and get promoted.
He appreciated WCS and her partners, for the continued tangible support in various areas but specifically towards capacity building and equipping of UWA staff in combating wildlife crime in this country. “When wildlife is safe and criminals are behind bars or have given up their vices, then tourism will thrive, money will flow and all Ugandans will benefit,” he said.
The government of Uganda is negotiating World Bank funding to a tune of $148.2 over six-year period towards investment in forest protected areas for Climate Smart Environment. As part of fundraising the required resources, World Bank approached some partners to make funding available for habitat and ecosystem protection. As a result, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) agreed to separately extend an additional grant to Uganda Wildlife Authority and National Forestry Authority to be shared equally to a tune of $2.3 million dollars for a period of two years to finance activities that support protection of the environment under their mandates.
The resources for Uganda Wildlife Authority are earmarked to specifically go to Protected Area Biodiversity support. These funds will therefore support law enforcement like deployment of the ranger force to do more patrols, fire management initiatives, community livelihood projects and Human Wildlife Conflict in the Albertine rift of Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth and Toro- Semuliki. The funds will also be used to develop the eco-tourism initiatives in the Kingdom of Bunyoro and Toro in the region.
The Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority is optimistic that the funds will offer the much-needed money to ensure protected areas are kept safe following the heavy drop in revenue since the outbreak of COVID- 19 in March. "The funds will ensure that we do even more close monitoring and patrols to keep our parks safe and deter any illegal activities like poaching," he said.
Under the $148.2 million funding, the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities will be supported to carry out its administrative and supervisory roles together with the Ministry of Water and Environment as they oversee implementation of the different projects earmarked for support. The broader aspects envisaged in this phase of funding will include infrastructural development of the Protected Areas, procurement of equipment to support construction and maintenance of roads, increase the coverage of the electric fences and other human wildlife conflict interventions like trenches among many others. The communities will also be supported to improve their livelihood, improve their tourism facilities among many others.
Celebrations to mark the annual World One Health Day 2020 was held at Imperial Royale hotel on 3rd Tuesday, 2020. One Health is an interdisciplinary strategy that addresses health issues from an integrated perspective that includes Humans, Wildlife and Environment.
The Chief Guest Ag. Permanent Secretary Dr. Florence Adong Ministry of Water and Environment in her remarks appreciated the support from Development Partners who have made the implementation of the One Health Strategy possible. She underscored the importance of this year’s celebration as one that draws attention of the global community of the need to have One Health approach to address shared health threats.
She observed that the year’s theme “Strengthening National One Health Practice, A Call for Advocacy and Action” was timely. She noted that the globe needed to recognize that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and their shared environment Therefore, One Health was not limited to public or animals but also the environment. Present to grace the celebration were Dr. Monica Musenero, Presidential Advisor on Epidemics, Chair One Health Collins Oloya, ED- UWA Sam Mwandha and Director Animal resources MAAIF Dr. Juliet Sentubwe.
The celebrations brought together the responsible government agencies, One Health practitioners, development partners, One health advocates, researchers, academia, local and international organizations. These shared best practices, explored contributions of One Health towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and reviewed mainstreaming of One Health in national and sub- national operations in a series of presentations and discussion by various speakers.
In his address, the Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority Mr. Sam Mwandha decried environmental degradation that has orchestrated the destruction of forests, wetlands, wildlife poaching and irresponsible garbage disposal especially “kaveras and other plastics” undermining soil fertility and productivity.
He noted that communication, coordination and collaboration among partners working in wildlife, livestock, human and environmental health as well as other relevant partners are an essential part of the One Health approach. “Working together allows us to have the biggest impact on improving health for both people and animals living in a shared environment,” he said.
Dr. Monica Musenero, the Presidential Advisor on Epidemics in her remarks noted that the development of the National One Health Policy is yet another milestone in streamlining the One Health approach in government. She noted that COVID-19 pandemic was an example One Health approach that recognizes the close connection between the health of people, animals and the environment and the role this connection plays in the emergence of new diseases. “Fighting disease threats like COVID-19 requires One Health collaboration because no one person, organization, or sector alone can effectively address the pandemic,” she said.
Space for giants on Tuesday, November, 2020 donated 18 mobile crime scene kits to Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Investigation unit to assist in management and handling of crime scenes while investigating wildlife crime related issues. The handover was witnessed by Deputy Director Field Operations (DDFO) Charles Tumwesigye, Deputy Director Legal and Corporate Affairs (DDCLA) Chemonges Sabilla and Col. Kyangungu Allan on behalf of UWA. Space for Giants was represented by Rod Potter, Justus Karuhanga and Tusubira Justus. Each mobile crime kit comprises of 29 items that include a digital camera, high tech scanner and digital weighing scale among others.
At the handover at UWA headquarters, DDLCA appreciated Space for Giants for the great partnership that UWA has enjoyed with the organisation over the years that is not limited to that donation but also trainings and interventions aimed to protect wildlife. On behalf of Space for Giants, Mr. Karuhanga thanked UWA for being steadfast in conservation management and indicated that this was only the beginning of the great journey where conservation will emerge winner.
Representing UWA Executive Director, Mr. Charles Tumwesigye thanked Space for Giants for giving wildlife protection priority in funding. He observed that UWA has had a long partnership with the organisation that begun with identification of investment opportunity in protected areas. He noted that the same organisation piloted funding for establishment of electric fence in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks to reduce on the rampant Human Wildlife Conflicts. “They have now come in another area i.e. investigation and intelligence. Am grateful that this equipping of our investigation staff has come in timely. We have just recruited and trained them. This equipment therefore will come in handy,” he said.