David Mugarra, Head of Governance and Policy Advocacy, KRC
Francis Musinguzi, Information, Research and Communication Manager, KRC
KRC’s work on peaceful settlement of conflicts in the region continued to yield fruitful outcomes in Kasese District, where KRC is implementing the Networks for Peace project in partnership with Minority Rights Group International. A number of reports have been received through the Early Warning System, about animals becoming a menace to the local community, destroying crops, attacking livestock and endangering human life.
On the 3rd August, the Ministry of Lands convened a special meeting at Muhokya Sub County Headquarters to address the contestation over 9,000 acres stretch of land in Kahendero, neighboring Queen Elizabeth National Park. This came after several calls by the local community and civil society to government to intervene in renown resource conflict over the park.
According to the locals, efforts to open the boundaries in the past had stalled due to failure of government to involve the community. Learning from this experience, Mr. Vincent Byendaimira, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands constituted a joint technical committee to reopen the boundaries. The committee comprised surveyors from the Lands Ministry, officials from UWA, local leaders and members of the community.
The preferred participatory process to resolve the conflict has been long advocated for by KRC, while leading mediating conflict between Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the local community. The participatory process was commended by Kasese District Leadership, UWA and the community who insinuated that they had been intentionally sidelined in the previous attempts to open the boundaries. According to Hakim Kimbugwe, a resident of Kahendero said that the production of GeoMaps upon which the boundary demarcation would be done had been drawn by the Lands Ministry without their involvement
The District Chairperson of Kasese, Hon. Muhindi called for respect of the boundary opening exercise from the conflicting parties. Pontius Ezuma, the Chief Warden at Queen Elizabeth National Park called for rebuilding of relations between UWA and the local community and amicable resolution of contentions as they arise. KRC, represented by David Mugarra, called for continuous cordial engagement between UWA and the community where wildlife and people thrive in harmony and each party understand their roles and responsibilities and their actions benefit each other.
It is hoped that the exercise to open boundaries will indefinitely ease tensions between the conflicting parties.