KAMPALA – With eight days to D-day, the TuskerLite Mt Rwenzori Marathon keeps on gaining momentum. The run has today unveiled another of its main sponsors, United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Speaking during the media briefing at the UNDP headquarters on Yusuf Lule Road in Kampala on August 24, Mr Amos Wekesa, one of the organisers of the event noted that when approached, UNDP were quick to come on board and preach the marathon gospel, thanks to their patron Ms Elsie Attafuah, who he said is passionate about Uganda.
He welcomed UNDP physical participation and coming on board to sponsor the marathon for a second edition in a row, saying this goes a long way in marketing the marathon at a global level.
“UNDP’s resources are basically for bringing in foreign runners. These are a great asset in this marathon because they spend and bring in money in the economy. They usually come a week before the marathon and leave a week after, and all this while, they are spending money,” he noted.
He added: “The idea of this marathon was conceived eight years ago out of the frustration of seeing Mt Kilimanjaro earning lots of money for Tanzania. I thought to myself, can’t Mt Rwenzori do the same for Uganda?”
Having started in 2003, Wekesa noted that the Kilimanjaro Marathon not only brings in lots of income for Tanzania but also markets the Moshi area where it is carried out, a similar concept he wants to happen in Kasese.
“We are using a South African system this year and they will put us in the catalogues of the marathons they showcase. It is a good thing for us in terms of marketing this marathon. This impact will be felt in 10 years to come.”
In her remarks, Ms Elsie Attafuah, the Resident Representative of UNDP shared that as the largest development agency in the United Nations family, their mandate is to improve people’s livelihood in different ways and they are looking towards pathways such as this marathon that promote tourism to do this.
“We can leverage nature’s gifts to Uganda because tourism provides a pathway for development. Through this, we can create jobs, livelihood and income for the people,” she said.
Ms Attafuah explained that the impact of Covid-19 on tourism is too hard and they (UNDP) are trying to help the industry bounce back and build resilience in the industry, help reset and bring back tourism in providing jobs and earning the country forex.
“There is a lot we can do as Uganda to see that we position tourism at the level of earning. This marathon is an opportunity to push forward an agenda to use tourism as an income-generating activity for the country,” she shared.
She revealed that UNDP will also be sponsoring an international journalist who will come in and tell the Ugandan story to the world.
“Tourism as a way of supporting the development agenda for is as a pathway to improving inclusive and sustainable livelihood. We are hoping through this, we will be able to position Uganda much better to the world in terms of tourism.”
According to Wekesa, ongoing registration is massive and they are looking at over 2000 runners to take part in this year’s marathon, compared to last year’s 800.
“Security is tight on ground, we have a sponsor that has taken care of this, even the communities are mobilising. We shall have four ambulances in place to attend to emergencies. We are working with Rocket Health and we will have lots of medical personnel on ground.”