The Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) is committed to supporting and promoting the cultural and other rights and wellbeing of the Batwa community in Bundibugyo. We, however, recognise that these rights and wellbeing are multipronged, demanding the services and support of various other stakeholders: representatives of the Batwa community, the local government, civil society organisations, government agencies, religious institutions and security agencies among others.
To foster coordination and strengthen collaboration in supporting the Batwa community, CCFU has periodically organised stakeholder meetings to reflect on their services and review their progress on commitments and aspirations charted at a previous meeting and along the way.
During the stakeholder meeting held on 14 September 2021, representatives of the Batwa community explained their state of life and living as gradually improving owing to the support provided by various actors such as CCFU and TAK water who have provided them with land and other resources to use for livelihood, their access to the Semuliki national park for cultural purposes and resource harvesting is granted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and their children’s education which is supported by CCFU and implemented by the Bugombwa Catholic Parish is going on well. One of their daughters sat for P. 7 in 2020, but needs to do the examinations again since she did not obtain the grade requisite to proceed to secondary school.
The Batwa expressed a need for better recognition of their King by the government to the level of the kings of other cultural institutions, the continuing need for functional adult literacy (FAL) classes which they asked the government to allow them to attend even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and further support to their livelihood through craftwork.
The various stakeholders in the meeting, who shared about the progress made in supporting the Batwa, also made several commitments. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) pledged to continue allowing the Batwa to access the forest, and implored them to always register with their offices before entering the forest so that their security is guaranteed, and the forest resources are better protected. The Bugombwa Catholic Parish pledged to continue supporting the education of the Batwa children, and encouraged their parents to do their part by providing some of the basic needs to the children, and visiting them at school to encourage then to study. The Bundibugyo District Local Government, pledged to support Batwa livelihood through affirmative action in accessing the government development funds, and to continue addressing acts of marginalisation against the Batwa through community sensitisation. The local government was represented by the District Community Development Officer, the District Internal Security Officer, the Principal Administrative Secretary. CCFU pledged to continue supporting Batwa education, cultural rights access and promotion and livelihood programmes such as the apiary project.