KABOONG– The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has disbursed Shs 428, 185, 240m to three sub-counties that share borders with Kidepo Valley National park.
The sub-counties of Karenga, Lokori, Kawalakol, and Kamion sub-county received Shs 114m, Shs 68.34m, Shs 117.1m and Shs 72m and respectively while Shs 19.4m will go to supervision and monitoring of projects approved by Kaboong district local government council.
Ms Doreen Katusiime the Permanent secretary ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities while handing over the money at Kaabong district headquarters said the money was a mandatory 20 percent revenue sharing agreement with the neighbouring communities and local governments as prescribed in law.
According to Ms Katusiime, the money will be used to finance the implementation of conservation projects identified in the four sub-counties of the district.
“We also have accumulated Shs 428, 185, 240m as at the end of October, 2018. These funds have been ready for disbursement since the beginning of the year but there were no projects approved. And today we have approved projects so we are releasing this money to you to kick-start the projects,” Ms Katusiime added in a statement.
Ms Katusiime explained that it a law that part of the revenues collected from the park’s visitors is disbursed to neighbouring communities to implement projects aimed at improving their livelihoods, and also reduces any tensions that might arise out of the different interests between the park’s management and the nearby communities.
According to a letter signed by the executive director Mr Sam Mwanda, the community projects identified include Bee keeping, Crafts shop construction by Ericha etal, Chilli farming, renovation of community lodge at Lorukol, tree planting, completion of tourism cultural village of projects approved.
Mr Mwanda urged Kaboong local government to regularly monitor implementation of the projects and update UWA on the developments.
“Engagement and mobilization of the district and sub-county leadership are of paramount importance in ensuring effective monitoring of project implementation and value for money,” said Mr Mwanda
Mr John Masereka, the conservation area manager for Kidepo Valley said the overall goal of revenue sharing is to ensure strong partnerships between the management of protected areas, local communities and local governments, leading to sustainable administration of resources by enabling local communities to benefit financially.
Famed for its rugged savannah, dominated by the 2,750 metres (9,020 feet) Mt Morungole and transected by the Kidep and Narus rivers, Kidepo is tucked in Uganda’s most remote north-eastern corner, some 700km from Kampala and tucked between borders with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo valley is an isolated park.
According to Mr Masereka the park contains one of the most exciting fauna of any Ugandan national park with 77 species of mammal, several of which are (in Uganda) restricted to Kidepo and Karamoja sub-region.
“Just look at those localised carnivores; the bat-eared fox, the stripped hyena, Aardwolf, Caraca and Cheeta, lion, leopard, spotted hyena and black-backed and side stripped jackal, these are not these are not in any other park,” Mr Masereka explained.
He revealed that some of the benefits of revenue sharing include upgrading of gravel roads in the surrounding areas, construction of classrooms and staff quarters, construction of health units, boreholes.
He added that the other community benefit-sharing programmes related to the protected areas and wildlife management around the park include sport hunting, controlled poaching, and water access during the dry season and firewood collecting.
And available statistics show that UWA has disbursed over Shs 2billion through revenue sharing to the communities surrounding the park since 2001.
The LCV chairman for Kaabong Mr Mark Obuku urged the sub-counties leaders to ensure that the projects are expeditiously implemented to create desired impact and enlist community support for wildlife conservation. Ends