KAMPALA — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a $21.5 million (UGX 80 billion) investment in Uganda’s biodiversity program which is aligned with priorities of both countries.
In a release to journalists on Friday June 5, the US Mission in Uganda said this is part of its long-standing commitment to protecting and promoting biodiversity in Uganda.
“These multi-year activities will reduce wildlife trafficking, help communities manage their natural resources, and promote real-world alternatives to poaching and encroachment into natural areas,” the statement reads in parts.
USAID says activities will further avail support for authorities in protected areas and engage the private sector to develop sustainable solutions for affected communities while putting an end to wildlife crime by improving the capabilities and coordination of local and national authorities.
It will further develop the Uganda Biodiversity Fund—an organization that USAID helped found and is now working with as a partner—into an institution that can generate and manage financing for biodiversity conservation nation-wide”.
Uganda in 2017 launched the first investment window to seek to harness the financial muscle of the world’s leading hotel and lodge operators to raise vital funds to support and protect Uganda’s wildlife.
The US says, activities under the fund will have the benefit of reducing human-wildlife interaction that can lead to the emergence of pandemic zoonotic diseases.
The three new USAID activities are (1) Biodiversity for Resilience, implemented by Research Triangle International in partnership with WWF Uganda, Conservation Through Public Health, and Viamo; (2) Combating Wildlife Crime, implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Network, and the Royal United Services Institute; and (3) Uganda Biodiversity Fund, implemented by the Uganda Biodiversity Fund in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and local conservation organizations.
Uganda’s incredible biodiversity is both a global treasure and a key to the country’s economic growth and long-term stability.
Nature-based tourism accounts for seven percent of GDP and in 2018 alone created more than 650,000 jobs.
At the same time, protected areas are under unprecedented pressure from human populations, which increasingly exposes communities to wildlife.
This increases human-wildlife conflict and exposure to zoonotic diseases that can have deadly consequences for both the people and wildlife that underpin Uganda’s tourism industry.
The tourism industry has suffered tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic but through these new awards, USAID and its partners will help affected communities find ways to use their natural resources to secure their economic well-being.