We implement environmental conservation and surrounding community sustainability
The aim of Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust is to make sure that in the effort of conserving the two critical forests ie MGNP& BINP, the sorrounding community is part of that effort so as to live in harmony with the inhabitants of these forests. We are currently supporting the following projects;
Water School Project for Sustainable Water Management for People and Nature around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
This €2.1 million project is funded by D. Swarovski KG (Swarovski) of Austria as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility under their Water School Program.
Water School Project aims at creating awareness in sustainable water use and management for people and nature in the neighborhood of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park(BINP) in Kanungu district. The project is providing safe drinking water to schools through construction of water boiling facilities.
Conservation of BINP watershed through effective community participation in sustainable water use and management; with a purpose of improving sustainable water use and management in twenty schools and 2000 households adjacent to BINP in Kanungu district.
This makes children aware of the importance of sustainable management of water resources for the benefits of their own livelihoods and health as well as of the surrounding ecosystems (including the BINP home of half of the world�s mountain gorilla population) on which they depend and which is their primary source of water.
It has three objectives namely:
Kanungu District in South Western Uganda has problems of safe water delivery to households and it has always been the District plan to deliver safe water to all the district population. In 2000 a plan was put in place to construct a gravity flow scheme for Kayonza sub-county but funds for its construction could not be identified in the District or national Budgets. In 2009, which was the Gorilla Year, Swarovski as part of its Corporate Community Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme, under Swarovski Water School Project, identified Kanungu District as a focal area of support and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as the nucleus of their support. In a baseline survey done to identify what intervention to undertake, the water scheme was identified among others as a project that would serve the interests of the people and have substantial impact in the peoples livelihood. A four year project among others to design and construct the Gravity Water Scheme was designed in partnership with Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust. The scheme will have four reservoir tanks, cover 42 kilometers to supply water using ground laid pipes and 58 distribution taps.
The scheme will serve the four parishes of Bujegwe, Karangara, Ntungamo and Rutendere in Kayonza sub County with an estimated population of 17,000 people. Among the direct beneficiaries are: nine schools (five under Water School Project), three health units, a Sub County Head quarters and three churches who will have safe water in their compounds which will greatly improve the running of these institutions.
Banyara Gravity Flow scheme was launched 24th March 2011by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), accompanied by the Chairperson (LCV),the Chief Administrative officer (CAO) among other Kanungu district dignitaries. The scheme Consulting Project Manager is Kigezi Diocese Water and Sanitation Programme and the construction contractor is M/S Robtex Kasese Enterprises Ltd.
The district and national leaders have acknowledged and appreciated the Swarovski and BMCT contribution as BGFS will contribute to increased rural safe water coverage in the district and the nation at large. This contributes directly to Millennium Development Goal number 7 targets 7 "to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation."
Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA)
BMCT uses Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) as an entry point for addressing community members and strengthening the impact of our programmes. VSLA members meet once a week to save, which makes them easily accessible for community change agents (described on the following page) and BMCT staff. A VSLA is a micro-credit model under which 25-30 members meet in a self-managed group once a week to save and borrow money.
Members can take out loans to invest in income generating activities such as commercialised farming, goat rearing and small businesses, or they can use the loans to meet expenses like school fees and medical bills. All members pay 10% interest and have three months to repay the loans, resulting in a steady growing pool of money, which is shared among the members once a year.
VSLA members are provided with security against unforeseen emergencies and they have access to means to invest in the future. As a result, VSLA members experience pronounced economic and social progress leading to an overall increased well-being and enhanced quality of life.
Health Education Agricultural and Land rights
Empowering Batwa women and men in southwestern Uganda to achieve sustainable livelihoods through increased access to land, food security, diversified income sources, improved health and higher levels of education. Implemented in Kisoro and Kabale districts With CARE international in Uganda
Landless and living in extreme poverty in small settlements on other people's land, the Batwa population is on of the most vulnerable and discriminated ethnic groups in Uganda.
The Batwa people are traditional indigenous forest dwellers but were expelled from their habitat in 1991 when Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park were gazetted as national parks. Without any provision of new land for settlement or alternative means of livelihoods, most Batwa families survive by working for small amounts of food or cash or by begging. As a result, a large proportion of the Batwa suffer from marginalization, depression, poor health, alcoholism and lack of hope for a better future.
BMCT supports the Batwa to achieve sustainable livelihoods by procuring land, establishing permanent houses, providing agricultural and small-scale business training, establishing VSLAs and disseminating hygiene and nutrition information. It is our aim to empower Batwa households to secure consistent income and to enable them to nourish their families and educate their children on their earnings.
Population Health Environment
Integrated Community Conservation and Development for a Healthy Population around Bwindi Conservation Area.
Population density and growth have an immense impact on conservation and development. There is a critical need for family planning and reproductive health services in Uganda where the fertility rate in rural areas remains high at 7.1 children per woman (with a national average of 6.7). It is estimated that less than 25% of all married women use contraceptives or other family planning methods resulting in a steady growing population and an increasing pressure on the ecological system and natural resources. There are many barriers for effective family planning in the Bwindi area and Kanungu District such as few and under-financed health centres,poor service delivery and limited awareness of sexual and reproductive health among the population in general and among the youth in particular. Furthermore, myths and misconceptions about contraceptives have created fear of infertility and other suspected side effects, as well as conservative cultural and religious beliefs hinder many families and unmarried women in preventing unwanted pregnancies.
BMCT works through the Population Health Environment programme to unite reproductive health, conservation and development partners to increase access to family planning services, and to improve conservation friendly livelihoods. The programme builds capacity among community change agents and health workers to improve service delivery and it raises awareness of reproductive health issues among youth, women and men for improved family health and sustainable development.
BMCT works to unite conservation, development and health stakeholders to create synergy for sustainable development. By establishing linkage mechanisms between community members, family planning service providers, and development and conservation groups, population health environment activities will be integrated and activities coordinated without wasting unnecessary resources on duplications. This year, BMCT has conducted a baseline survey in the target area to map the existing knowledge level and practices among the population and the various stakeholders, and to identify current interventions and gaps. The baseline data will be shared at stakeholders' dialogue meetings and used for further planning.
One of the biggest challenges for delivery of family planning and reproductive health services to community members in rural areas like Kanungu District, is lack of capacity. The health units are few and hard to access for people living in very remote areas, which deepens the already existing communication gap between service providers and potential clients. As a result, a large proportion of the population does not receive any counselling on family planning and are thus unable to make informed decisions regarding choice of contraceptive methods.
BMCT builds capacity by training community change agents and health workers from health units in Kanungu District to deliver good quality services to communities for improved family health and development.
BMCT has put in place a team of professionals already working in the district and use community change agents currently engaged within the communities through BMCT's other programmes. Their primary role is to ensure that up-to-date information about existing family planning services reaches all relevant stakeholders - especially women, youths and the indigenous Batwa people.
BMCT actively involves the whole family as a unit to ensure that men and women are equally informed and capable of making the right family planning decisions. This is fundamental because most women in Uganda do not control their sexual and reproductive health choices as it is up to their male partners to decide which contraceptive methods their partners should use.
BMCT raises awareness about reproductive health among women, men and youth in all target ares - including school going children, school drop-outs and teenage mothers. Information about family planning is in general limited but it is particularly restricted for young people aged 15-30 years who do not relate to the current family planning services which they perceive to only concern married couples. To ensure that information reaches all community members, BMCT has held educative radio talk shows and trained drama groups in disseminating key messages about family planning and reproductive health. Additionally, the programme uses the VSLA methodology as an entry point for community mobilisation and information dissemination. VSLA members meet once a week and to save, which makes them easily accessible for community change agents and BMCT staff. Through VSLA meetings members have learned about contraceptives, the advantages of having manageable families, and the importance of environmental conservation.
Generating income through improved livelihoods
Improving the well-being of people around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park by diversification of products for income generation to improve livelihoods.
To increase income by diversification of livelihoods and improve the well-being of people living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, BMCT has funded 26 community projects to support 501 (190 males, 306 females, and five youth) beneficiaries in Kabale and Kisoro districts.
The selection of projects was participatory and transparent. A total of 83 projects were selected for vetting in 27 parishes where the LC3 chairperson, Sub-county chiefs, LCSC members, Community Development Officers (CDO), NAADS service provider at subcounty level participated in the final selection. 31 projects were recommended for support out of which 26 where recommended to the LCSC for approval.
Agro inputs such as potato seed, animal breeds, tree seed, spawns, agro chemicals, animal drugs, pumps, drums, watering cans, jerry cans, hoes, pangas, rakes, polythene bags, knives, rolls of thread were procured and supplied to beneficiaries for implementing the following 26 projects. The NAADS service providers assisted in identifying potato seed and animal breeds, they also provided advice on how to use the agrochemicals and animal drugs. The support has increased income at household level and improved attitude towards conservation of the protected areas.
Trans-boundary Conservation Programme Agro-forestry
It is funded by the DGIS through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Executive Secretariat (GV-TES) Kigali and BMCT. Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust(BMCT) in partnership with Greater Virunga Transboundary Executive Secretariat(GV-TES) based in Kigali, Rwanda engaged in an 18 months agro forestry and tree planting project in the thirteen parishes around Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area(BMCA).
The major aim of the project was to facilitate farmers to increase tree cover on the landscape while at the same time generating income through sell of tree seedlings by the tree nursery managers. Tree planting was complimented with a heifer programme targeting 50 households managed through the diocese of Muhabura. The heifer programme's principle is on a "send a cow" basis aimed at improving nutrition of selected households while at the same time boosting revenues through sale of milk and helping families to access organic manure.
Provision of tree nursery establishments
300 assorted nursery tools(hoes,spades,rakes,wheel barrows, secateurs,grafting knives,watering cans,jerrycans); 250 kgs of plythene tubes; 54kgs of assorted seed:pine(patula and carribaea), eucalytus, grivellia,maesopsis,calliandra seeds and 16m3 of mycorrhiza (pine soil) were procured and distributed to the nursery farmers as start up grants.
20 model tree nursery farmers were selected, taken through a three day refresher training in three nursery site identification, management and business / farm records to be able to operate tree nurseries as an enterprise.
By June 2011, of the 20 trained tree nursery farmers, 15 were actively engaged in the activity. They produced 531,418 seedlings. 243 tree growers(35 females, 208 males and 5 institutions) were trained in the basics of tree growing and management at their respective parish centers. Emphasis was put on: land preparation, lining out, pitting, seedling handling and transport from nursery to planting site, time of planting, weeding, pruning, thinning and fire protection.
Out of the 531,418 seedlings raised, 375,800 seedlings were purchased and planted by different tree growers. On average, each seedling cost UGX 150 at that time and hence farmers realized a cumulative income of UGX 56,370,00. Notwithstanding the all this, the income earned by the farmers was used to meet their basic needs like paying school fees, medical bills and renovation of their houses and was not re-invested in their respective tree businesses. Though, there is still a good number of farmers carrying out tree nursery business i.e. Existing farmers and new farmers.
Marketing of seedlings
To market the seedlings, the tree nursery farmers used mainly word od mouth through the churches and community meetings. Five nursery sign posts were erected at road junctions to boost marketing of seedlings and visibility of the project for outstanding nursery farmers.
The GEV-TES in partnership with BMCT through this project has increased tree cover in the area thereby contributing to the mitigation of climate change effects in the landscape. by involving tree farmers in commercial tree farming and fruit growing, the project has increased the sustainability of tree seedling raising / growing and improved livelihood. Furthermore, through the heifer program, farmers have been exposed to zero grazing for commercial purposes and improved agricultural methods.