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UWA recieves mountain rescue equipment from USAID-STAR

As part of UWA rescue program, USAID STAR through USFS International Program is donating mountain rescue equipment to UWA. UWA will offer this equipment to Rwenzori Mountaineering Services (RMS), a nongovernmental organization entrusted with a concession to provide trekking tourism services/support on the central circuit trail within the Rwenzori Mountains.

This equipment will be used to help support and integrate the Rwenzori Former Hunters in mountain rescue activities hence supporting community participation in wildlife conservation initiatives.

UWA is mandated to conserve resources in the protected areas in Uganda and also make these resources available for to visitors utilize.

Mt Rwenzori is a great World Heritage Site UNESCO, where people can enjoy good scenery, hiking, birding, forest walks. It’s the only place in the world where you find ice and snow at the equator which is such a beautiful experience.

“We work with communities and people around the parks, in this case we have our partners Rwenzori Mountaineering Services, and Rwenzori Tourist Services, who offer employment to people in the surrounding communities and market the Rwenzori’s.” said UWA Ag. ED Elly Musinguzi

USAID-STAR through the US Forest Service International Program (USFS) provided technical assistance to UWA to improve trails and recreational facilities in three national parks, Mgahinga, Queen Elizabeth, and Rwenzori Mountains. USFS International Programme consultant John Near, a Protected Area Manager from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska with extensive experience in trail and facility management surveyed 48Km of trails. Trail surveys were carried out with the help of UWA guides and ranger trainees. Having UWA guides and community workers accompany John

Neary provided excellent training opportunities for sustainable trail techniques that include both simple solutions such as constructing switch-back turns to eliminate overly steep, eroding sections, to more complex solutions such as improved bridge and trail designs.

Two new trails were also created by community laborers under supervision of UWA and USFS International Program.

In addition, USFS International Program has collaborated with a local Ugandan engineering firm to design facilities such as bridges, stairways, and rest areas which will be functional, durable and blend with the environment.

Following up on the survey, USFS International Program team is currently in the field carrying out two course trainings with the UWA and RMS rangers and guides. Trainings include Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance which involves topics like planning, design/layout and construction and also Mountain Search and Rescue training which involves basics skills of mountain rescue, accidents and use of equipment, low and high angle rescue techniques in Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks respectively.

We are grateful to USAID STAR for they have provided support to UWA through various projects namely: Pearls of Uganda program, Visitor Information Centre survey and design project, Training guides, Queen Elizabeth marketing and experiential tourism promotions, UWA website development, Development of trails in the Rwenzori, Batwa trail initiatives to name but a few.

We look forward to continued support in other areas like the: Construction of the Visitor Information centre in Buhoma Bwindi, Development of products, Accommodation facilities; Safety equipment in the Rwenzori’s and Building capacity of our guides in Rwenzori.

Elly Musinguzi

Ag. Executive Director

UWA

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