An important aspect of UOBDU’s efforts is its emphasis on ensuring that Batwa communities across the region participate fully in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of new initiatives meant to benefit them. A key goal is to empower the Batwa to directly advocate for their own rights at the local, regional, national, and international levels through capacity building, and information sharing.
Land rights: UOBDU is working with the Batwa to seek restitution of their forest use and access, and/or compensation for their loss of this use and access. As part of this work UOBDU is also carrying out cultural mapping of the Batwa ancestral lands. We are working with the Batwa on acquiring land, and land titles, as many who are settled on land outside the forests lack land titles, making their tenure insecure. One way we are doing this is through the formation of a Batwa Land Trust which will safeguard the rights of the communities to their lands. Included in our land rights work are trainings on land rights with Batwa leaders, informational and planning meetings with stakeholders, and awareness-raising meetings with local government representatives in Kisoro, Kanungu and Kabale Districts as well as government representatives from state ministries and departments. With the support of its friends UOBDU has published an advocacy book which highlights the Batwa’s situation. All proceeds from this book are used to support land acquisition and income generation projects with Batwa communities. UOBDU is grateful for the support of the Ford Foundation, Forest Peoples Programme, Minority Rights Group and CARE Uganda amongst others in this work.
Education and literacy: Our education and literacy projects supported by the Ford Foundation and Act and Empower have helped Batwa children attend primary and secondary school, helping adults attend vocational school, arranging skills training in villages, and holding Functional Adult Literacy classes. In 2011 UOBDU was supporting 35 Batwa children in primary school, 5 in secondary school, 3 in a boarding vocational school as well as 10 Batwa leaders in functional adult literacy classes.
Income generation: UOBDU has held craft-making and drama training programs with the support of the Global Environment Facility to help Batwa communities gain better access to income from tourism. With the support of the Gorilla Organisation UOBDU has also provided agricultural support to Batwa communities in Kisoro in the production of Irish potatoes and carpentry and tailoring skills with the support of the Ford Foundation. In collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Kisoro District Local Government, UOBDU has supported the creation of the The Batwa Trail a Batwa led tourism venture based in Kisoro. The trail serves as an educational tool for tourists, as well as a source of employment and income for the Batwa.
Health: UOBDU has partnered with other organisations such as CARE and Euro Change to: increase awareness of the importance of good hygiene and safe sex; monitor a health care services program; and construct water tanks and shades so communities may have safe water. Ongoing awareness-raising on health and hygiene issues is conducted during our regular community visits.
Institutional development: UOBDU is committed to being the best organization it can be so that it can serve the Batwa communities in the region. We are constantly working to ensure our staff have the opportunity to attend relevant trainings that will add value to their contribution to UOBDU’s efforts. In the last couple of years our staff have attend project management and financial services trainings in Kampala and our board has received organizational and leadership training to better help them guide the organization in its work. Recently, and with the support of the GEF, UOBDU has moved into its purpose built Cultural Centre in Kisoro which houses a craft shop, resource centre and offices.
UOBDU is always looking for additional support to continue and expands its support to the Batwa. If you are interested in supporting UOBDU’s programs or would like additional information on its existing work please contact email@example.com
1) To encourage, promote and support the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and advancement of the Batwa Community in Uganda.
2) To sensitise on and encourage the independence, equality, education, adult literacy, and women’s emancipation of the Batwa community in Uganda.
3) To network and liaise closely with Local Government, and Central Government Ministries and Departments, for the rights, development and promotion of the Batwa.
4) To network and liaise closely with relevant non-governmental organisations for the rights, development and promotion of the Batwa.
5) To mobilize resources for Batwa development and human rights initiatives.
6) To support and enhance income-generating activities for the Batwa communities.
7) To promote, in accordance with the rights, wishes and interests of the Batwa, the transition of household income from the informal to the formal sector.
8) To educate the Batwa community about health issues including Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
9) To do all such things and to engage in all such activities which are incidental or ancillary to any of the aforementioned objectives or which the Organisation may from time to time determine.
Local Level: UOBDU advocates local governments to provide land as compensation for evicting the Batwa from the forests, so that they may have a place to live on and farm. UOBDU is also helping educate Batwa communities of their rights to enable them to present their situation to locally elected individuals at village and parish levels. This work has been supported by CARE Uganda amongst others.
National Level: Supported by organizations like Minority Rights Group, Uganda Land Alliance and Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment, UOBDU is continuing to advocate key government departments and ministries with the aim of getting a direct government response to the Batwa’s circumstances. Meetings have been held with government officials, and various media have been used to raise awareness within the wider public about the situation of the Batwa.
Regional Level: UOBDU, in partnership with FPP, MRG and the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs, has submitted two reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, and has attended the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to raise their situation.
International Level: UOBDU represents the Batwa and their situation regularly in forums that include the CBD, IUCN, UN and others. UOBDU hopes that, by opening up opportunities in policy, and supporting Batwa communities to take advantage of those opportunities, they will be more able to exercise agency over their lands and livelihoods. UOBDU is grateful for the support of organizations like FPP and GTZ as well as indigenous networks like IIN and IIFB in this work.