On the occasion of this year’s World Tourism Day celebrations held on September 27, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) disbursed a total of 175 million shillings (approximately US$52,000) to the communities adjacent to Lake Mburo National Park as revenue-sharing funds for 2014-2015.
The celebrations were presided over by the right Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who represented the President. He was accompanied by the Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, and Tourism State Minister Godfey Kiwanda, at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara town.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda stated that 20% of Uganda’s gross income per annum comes from tourism and a shift from US$660 million to US$1.35 billion last year.
According to Mr. Asa Kule Musinguzi, the Chief Park Warden at Lake Mburo, the funds will also support the provision of piped water to the Byembogo cell in the Sanga Town council, to fence valley tanks constructed with the support from AWF-USAID in Rurambira (Nyakashashara) sub-county, and the construction of the Akatooma community Primary School (Nyakahita) among others.
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.
According to Jossy Muhangi, UWA Publicist, the outcome of the implemented projects is expected to be improved livelihoods and reduced human wildlife conflicts that may be pertaining to any given protected area.
He added that the Uganda Wildlife Authority has also embarked on improving visitation to this national park by approving more investment in accommodation, constructing Enyemebwa Centre for cultural tourism, and translocation of giraffes to the area.
The national park receives on average 26,000 visitors per annum generating approximately 200 million shillings as mandatory 20% revenue share to the neighboring 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.
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 programs is to achieve community support for wildlife conservation.
UWA is aware of the challenges being faced by the communities especially in the Kiruhura district by the 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 are 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.
Last year, UWA translocated 15 giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park to Lake Mburo to boost diversity of wildlife species in the park and to biologically control the Acacia tree species in the park.