Posted by: United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda | 13/09/2013

BATWA, ”AS OBSERVERS OF THEIR FORMER ANCESTRAL LANDS”

Batwa were evicted from their former ancestral lands of Mgahinga, Bwindi and Echuya without their free, prior and informed consent as enshrined in national and international human rights instruments. The Batwa numbering about 7000 continue to suffer severe isolation, discrimination and socio-political exclusion.

Whereas the Ugandan Constitution recognizes the Batwa as an indigenous community, their customary rights to land have not been recognized and they have received no compensation for their losses, resulting in a situation where more than half of them remain landless and live in absolute poverty.

Batwa are voiceless, landless, lack proper health facilities ,have high levels of illiteracy, name it all.

Even the revenues that are collected from their former ancestral lands do not benefit them directly and fully thus terming them as ”observers of their former ancestral lands” of Mgahinga, Bwindi and Echuya forests.

The current landlords where Batwa are squatters also do not allow them to have permanent structures inform of shelter or sanitation facilities such as  pit latrines on their lands. This worsens when a mutwa loses a relative and it still difficult to bury his/her beloved ones decently as they are not also allowed to bury in land that  they squatt on because it does not belong to them.

As a result,the Batwa remain arms folded waiting for their second evictions as if the first one of the 1990’s was not enough. Batwa have almost lost all their traditional ways and methods of living, language inclusive.

UOBDU and its partners together with the donor world are doing their best to address the issues of the Batwa to break the long lasting silence.

Thanks to Ford Foundation that is playing a vital role to help out the Batwa.

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