Tourism Host Communities Threaten Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is a destination for local and international tourists Murchison Falls National Park is a destination for local and international tourists

By Cirrus Kabaale

Last month, the World Bank and Swedish Embassy signed a partnership agreement of worth 12.3 billion Uganda shilling fund support with several government institutions including National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Ministry of Tourism and among others to help the country to manage natural and tourism resources.

The purpose of the support was to help the country’s economy to recovery from the effects of post covid 19, promote green economy by reducing the carbon emission and address loopholes by enforcing environmental protection as part of the recovery plan for the tourism industry.

The tourism sector that facilitates mobility and human interaction has been amongst the hardest hit. The sector has been one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the country. In the 2018/2019 financial year, tourism earned Uganda over USD 1.6 billion.

And according to the estimates from the Ministry of Tourism indicate that Uganda is expected to lose nearly $ 500 million in tourism earnings in 2020 due to travel restrictions implemented after the coronavirus outbreak.

The presidential restrictions to curb the spread of the deadly virus have sharply curtailed tourism activities everywhere and the tourism host community has not been spared. While a gradual re-opening of society is underway, the pandemic in the country has not yet reached its peak and the long process towards recovery is just beginning.

As tourism crises elsewhere have demonstrated, communities who largely depend on tourism were left uncertain of how to survive after a national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid 19 halted tourism activities, which pushed communities to encroach on the wildlife habitat areas in search for food and income.

In efforts to ensure that the tourism host communities do not destroy Uganda’s environment, on the 10th and 11th November 2020, Environment Governance Institute (EGI) in partnership with Uganda Wild Life Authority Staff working in Murchison falls landscape with the support of the IUCN Save Our Species which is co-funded by the European Union organized community champion trainings for tourism host communities in Pakanyi and Ngwedo sub counties, Masindi and Bullisa districts respectively.

The training enabled tourism host communities to build their resilient capacity to adapt and apply alternative land-use and livelihood practices to secure food security, improved incomes and climate-resilient. This will help limit or stop them from destroying wildlife habitats and engaging in illegal activities including poaching.

Therefore, the diversification of livelihoods will enable communities, generate income, get food, and ensure the ecosystems are protected.

Cirrus Kabaale, Programs Officer Just Energy Transition at Environment Governance Institute (EGI)

 

 

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