In the name of conversation: the eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest

 

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Produced by CCFU as part of its Oral History Documentation project

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IN THE NAME OF CONSERVATION The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 2017

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IN THE NAME OF CONSERVATION The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page 1. INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................................................2 Background.......................................................................................................................................................2 Methodology ....................................................................................................................................................2 2. THE CONSERVATION CONTEXT....................................................................................................................4 Changing notions of conservation.....................................................................................................................4 Conservation in Uganda ...................................................................................................................................5 3. THE BATWA AND SEMULIKI FOREST............................................................................................................7 Who are the Batwa?..........................................................................................................................................7 The Batwa in Uganda ......................................................................................................................................8 The Batwa in Bundibugyo.................................................................................................................................9 Eviction from Semliki National Park...............................................................................................................10 5. THE CONSEQUENCES OF EVICTION.........................................................................................................13 Poor living conditions and landlessness.........................................................................................................13 Livelihood and social support..........................................................................................................................14 Stereotyping and social exclusion...................................................................................................................15 Vanishing cultural heritage..............................................................................................................................16 Spiritual development and education..............................................................................................................16 6. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS...............................................................................................18 End Notes.......................................................................................................................................................20 Other References............................................................................................................................................23 2 TheTheeviectvioicntioonf tohfethBeatBwaatwfraomfroSmemSeumlikuiliki 2 ForFeosrte, sBtu, nBduinbduigbyuogyo

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1. INTRODUCTION Background In 2013, The Cross - Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU)1 initiated a programme to promote the cultural rights of indigenous minority groups in Uganda. This revealed that such groups face common challenges: negative stereotyping, loss of land and of a sense of belonging, absence of education and fast vanishing indigenous languages, lack of political representation and the loss of their cultural heritage. While these concerns cut across all the ethnic minorities, communities with weak mechanisms for the intergenerational transmission of their cultural heritage and with a limited ability to document important aspects of their heritage appeared to be most vulnerable. As a result, CCFU initiated an Oral History Documentation Project and selected three indigenous minority groups (IMGs) whose heritage was most at risk. These include the Batwa of Bundibugyo, with whom CCFU has been working to transmit important aspects of their heritage to the younger generation, through formal and nonformal education. This publication complements this work. It seeks to highlight the consequences of an environmental conservation approach that has over the years given limited attention to the human attachment and cultural values associated with spaces that are gazetted as National Parks and other protected areas. It has been especially prepared for all those who are concerned with the fate of IMGs, including conservationists, development partners and government authorities. It is hoped that this case study on the Batwa community in Uganda’s western district of Bundibigyo will help readers to reflect on the evolution of environmental conservation thinking and practice (in particular the consequences of eviction without the responsibility to ensure adequate relocation of the affected communities), and how this has resulted in dire consequences, including the dispossession of community stewardship for preserving their natural and cultural heritage, and a loss of livelihood and 1 dignity – placing this Batwa community on the brink of extinction. This case study also proposes conclusions and recommendations on conservation practice, eviction policies, and the need for legal provisions to cater for evicted communities, all underscoring the principle of responsibility towards future generations. Methodology A review of secondary literature on conservation and its history in Uganda, and on the motivation and consequences of the eviction of Batwa communities from forests largely informed the questions used to interview stakeholders in Bundibugyo and Kampala. Interviewees included respondents who have been directly and indirectly involved in supporting the Batwa community and have a general mandate to address their social needs. They included representatives from the Batwa community itself, district government authorities - the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), the Local Council V (LCV) Chairman, the District Community Development Officer (DCDO) and counterparts in Ntandi Town Council, as well as thelocal Intelligence Officer - officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (Semuliki National Parkand Kampala headquarters), as well as representatives from Bugombwa Catholic Parish. Consultative meetings were held to explain the objectives of the Oral History Documentation Project and to explore the relevance of documenting the history of the Batwa. Field visits to the Semuliki National Park and the Batwa Heritage Trail (with permission of Uganda Wildlife Authority) allowed for further engagement with the Batwa community, provided an opportunity to witness their deep attachment to the forest and aided the generation of information on important natural and heritage resources in the Park. Although many respondents participated in the field study, the number of Batwa in Bundibugyo is small compared to the Batwa elsewhere in Uganda. While this could lead to the dismissal of this population sample, 2 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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both literature and engagement with the community revealed that even for a small and manageable community of less than 200, no deliberate effort had been made to address their plight, which is very similar to that of Batwa communities in the rest of the country. Given that hardly any Batwa speak English, interactions with the community were conducted in the Batwa language, Luswa. In some cases, especially in the larger community groups, the younger members did not understand Luswa and the dominant local language (Kwamba) had to be used. Visual aids were also used to support discussions and a translator proficient in both languages, and familiar with the Batwa community, facilitated effective communication. The process of collecting raw footage for two films that accompany this case study provided an opportunity to triangulate and verify information. The interaction with the Batwa community tended to be restricted to adults, in part because the youth had limited knowledge of their past (having been born after the eviction), and in part because they exhibited a lack self-confidence to voice queries and contributions. Meetings in the community were however open to all and the language used allowed the youth to participate, mainly as interested learners. Meetings with civil society organisations that had previously supported the Batwa such as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), World Vision, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church did not prove very fruitful, partly because of staff turnover and partly because of the lack of clear and long term agenda to support the Batwa. In the case of Rural Welfare Improvement for Development (RWIDE), the community-based organisation that received funding from the European Union to resettle the Batwa, appointments with the research team were not honoured. In spite of these limitations, this publication captures the views of a range of stakeholders representing key institutions associated with the Batwa community, as well as of the Batwa themselves. The different interactions made it possible to generate and triangulate the collected information. We therefore hope that this publication will benefit policy-makers at national and district levels, nongovernmental and grassroots organisations, and researchers involved in cultural and human rights issues in Uganda and beyond. The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 3

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2. THE CONSERVATION CONTEXT Changing notions of conservation Concern for the conservation of natural resources can be traced to 1847 when the US Congressman George Marsh called for attention to be paid to the destructive impact of human activity on the land in his area, and advocated for a conservationist approach to the management of forests. This was followed by several works by eminent writers and artists celebrating the American landscape, with some stressing the importance of wild nature as a source of moral, spiritual and patriotic inspiration.2 In Africa, prior to the colonial era, wildlife and associated ecosystems were managed under the guidance of cultural leaders. Many communities were hunters and gatherers using traditional mechanisms that ensured the sustainable use of natural resources. With the advent of colonialism, the State administration established conservation management systems informed by two schools of thought: a romantic tradition that decried the impact of modernisation and a ‘scientific’ tradition that sought to manage nature for human enjoyment and material benefit. Of special concern was the preservation of game for hunters, and later, the conservation of exotic animal and flora species and, more generally, of ‘wild’ Africa3. The introduction of sport hunting and the ban on traditional hunting (defined as ‘poaching’), however alienated indigenous communities from the natural and cultural resources found in newly-created ‘protected areas’ and National Parks. The creation of Protected Areas has been a central element of conservation policy since its beginnings in the 19th century4. From their inception, these were conceived as areas of land alienated to the State and managed for the benefit of future generations, but to the exclusion of residents. The globalisation of nature conservation efforts, as exemplified by the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity,continued to place emphasis on the conservation of biological diversity and the preservation of nature for its own sake, fostering a conceptual separation between humans and nature, and between nature and culture. This resulted in both moral and practical dilemmas, especially in poor countries where human needs cannot be set aside from pursuing the ‘intrinsic’ rights of nature. International conservation organisations that have donated most of the funds available for conservation work5 wield much influence and have imposed their vision of what nature should look like in different parts of the world, mostly illustrating Western ideals of wilderness and people-less landscapes. Nevertheless, community-based conservation approaches emerged in the 1980s. These reflected escalating protests and subsequent dialogue with local communities that were affected by international attempts to protect biodiversity, informed by a notion of conservation that separates nature and culture, disregards the cultural interests of indigenous people and negates any understanding of non-western cosmologies. Organisations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) started emphasising sustainable resource use (including its human element),implying the need to recognise the rights of indigenous peoples and the need to accommodate these rights in Protected Areas. The 1975 Kinshasa Resolution thus urged governments to devise means to bring indigenous peoples’ lands into conservation areas without relinquishing their ownership, use, and tenure rights. It also noted that indigenous peoples should not normally be displaced from their traditional lands by ‘protecting’ areas, nor should such areas be established without adequate consultation with the peoples to be directly affected. The same resolution was recalled at the 5th IUCN World Parks Congress, which affirmed the rights of traditional societies and stated the need to recognise “socio-political issues, such as the growing demand for participatory management, respect for traditional values and rights, […] noting the sometimes unfamiliar multidimensional spiritual values of traditional societies [that] need to be 4 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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further respected and more effectively addressed […] and the need to capture the traditional knowledge of the landscape”.6 On the ground, however, Western-inspired notion of conservation and related practices evolved very slowly in developing countries7. Conservation approaches pursuing protectionist and exclusionist policies continued to alienate the rights of indigenous peoples, largely negating considerations of livelihoods, equity and human rights protection. Conservationists and indigenous peoples, ‘have been terribly at odds with one another over the past century or more; violently so at times, due mostly to conflicting views of nature, radically different definitions of ‘wilderness’, and profound misunderstandings of each other’s science and culture’ 8 In essence, there is one reality, in this case nature, but several ways in which the reality of nature is socially explaine9. It is however now widely recognised that the exclusion of indigenous peoples and other local communities from protected areas can also undermine conservation objectives by creating conflict between local communities and parks managers. The public trust doctrine enshrined in the national Constitutions of several countries also now dictate that Governments protect national heritage, including natural heritage, for the common good of all citizens. This has however been implemented through a series of measures that have allowed citizens and foreign visitors access to such resources in a prescribed manner, but has in fact frequently resulted in state agencies denying people access to and use of what they considered “their” heritage resources. Conservation displacement, like other forms of displacement, comprise two processes (i) the forced removal of people from their homes; and (ii) economic displacement, the exclusion of people from particular areas in their pursuit of a livelihood. Beyond any material loss to livelihoods or dwellings, protesters also fight against their symbolic obliteration from the landscape - their removal from its history, memory and representation. Other groups protest their loss of power and control over their environments and the interference of the conservation regulations into their lives in ways over which they had little influence. Else they protest the interference of different value systems into local economies, the commodification of wildlife and nature into things which tourists can purchase, but which locals can then no longer afford10. Conservation in Uganda As elsewhere on the continent, the customary rules and practices of Uganda’s local communities initially regulated hunting, the collection of medicinal plants, and other forms of resource extraction. When Uganda became a British protectorate between 1894 and 1962, it acquired artificial geographic boundaries that in many places splitethnic groups, clans and families. The Batwa, among other groups,can be found on both sides of the borders of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda (as well as Burundi). Between 1920 and 1960, the colonial administration paid much attention to creating and preserving protected areas and games reserves. It established a Game Elephant Control Unit in 1923, later transformed into the Game Department,to mitigate the potential depletion of large game species, including elephants, rhinos, lions and hippos. Government also identified populated areas as wildlife sanctuaries, some of which were gazetted as Game Reserves (Lake George, Tooro, Lake Edward, Bunyoro, Gulu) under the 1926 Game Ordinance. Later, two National Parks were created from the combination of Lake Edward and Lake George Game Reserves to create Queen Elizabeth National Park and of Gulu and Bunyoro Game Reserves to create Murchison Falls National Park, under the National Parks Ordinance of 1952. From 1959 to 1962, Government embarked on consolidating gains, including the identification of additional important areas for protection of wildlife and dealing with human-wildlife conflict, with special attention given to problem elephants. The national conservation drive was further aided by the establishment of Controlled Hunting Areas and Wildlife Sanctuaries but Uganda’s turbulent political period from the 1970s to 1986 saw an almost total breakdown in State structures and authority. Conservation regulations were flaunted, resulting in the neglect and encroachment of many of the country’s Protected Areas and nature reserves, as Uganda lost its tourism appeal. With the restoration of the rule of law after 1986, the relevance of conservation to economic development led to renewed efforts to manage protected areas The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 5

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and resources. This however took on an iron-fisted, fortress mentality, mirroring the colonial approach to conservation, which excluded indigenous people’s cultural values and interests for conservation efforts11. In 1996, the Uganda Wildlife Statute (later the 2000 Uganda Wildlife Act) and the 1995 Constitution streamlined the wildlife sector and were primarily driven by the need to protect biodiversity. Responding to the increasing resentment and hostility from communities neighboring Protected Areas that reduced the effectiveness of conservation practices and contributed to the recurrence of illegal activities, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) however opted to review its conservation approach and in the 1990s adopted community-based conservation methods that involved the local communities in Park Management and revenue sharing. The 1994 National Wildlife Policy marked a paradigm shift which resulted in the involvement of local people in conservation (through Park Management Committees) and created opportunities for communities to directly engage and benefit from wildlife conservation. In Uganda, as in many other African countries, conservation policies and practice have been influenced by international and largely western-informed ideology, as manifested in international instruments. Uganda is a signatory to the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials (1950), the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), the Convention on Biological Diversity12, the Cartagena protocol13, and the Ramsar Convention14, all of which place emphasis on biodiversity. In these instruments, reference to human activity is often concerned with protecting biodiversity from human impact or providing space for environmental research or economic activities, such as tourism, farming, fisheries, rather than on the cultural value and heritage attached to biodiversity. Changes in schools of thought, as reflected in global dialogue on conservation principles and practice, in which the rights of indigenous peoples to access and own natural and cultural resources are recognised, are yet to be fully respected and realised at national level. 6 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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3. THE BATWA AND SEMULIKI FOREST Who are the Batwa? The Batwa are forest people, often referred to as ‘pygmies’15, spread over the Great Lakes region and parts of Central Africa. Anthropologists believe that the Batwa are among the oldest inhabitants of these equatorial forests. They are found in Rwanda, Burundi, western Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with an estimated total population of 86,000 to 112,00016. In Rwanda and Burundi, they are called Twa; in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are the Twa, Mbuti, or Bayanda and in Uganda, the Batwa people are also called Bayanda17. The Batwa settled in these areas before the arrival of the Bantu,but are now a minority, pushed out of their homes by larger ethnic groups and marginalised in mountainous and forested areas18. The Batwa are often discriminated against, owing to their physical appearance and their heritage as forest dwellers, and are frequently labelled pygmies in a pejorative way19. Traditionally, the Batwa lived as hunters and gatherers residing in temporary huts or caves, deriving sustenance from forest resources, such as honey, wild fruit and animals, mushrooms and vegetables20.They also depended on the forests for medicine, materials for basketry, fishing, hunting, and recreation21. Their cultural identity is still strongly associated with the forest and its natural resources, such as caves, hot springs, rivers, hills, plants and animals. The forests also provided a source of emotional and spiritual wellbeing for the close-knit Batwa communities, socially organised in clans, with strong cultural and traditional beliefs. They believe that “Upon creation, God placed them in the forest as their home and appointed them custodians of the forests[…] they believe that God dwells in the forest and, by living in the forest, they are nearer to God”22 The Batwa have depended on forest resources for their livelihood The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 7

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Over the years, the Batwa have attracted the attention of national and foreign tourists. The interest of foreign tourists is often largely informed by the ideas of early anthropological accounts, such as Edward Tyson’s “The Anatomy of a Pygmy Compared with that of a Monkey, and Ape and a Man”23, and subsequent exhibitions of a pygmy, in zoos and fairs in the USA. The Batwa in Uganda According to the 2014 Census,indigenous minority groups constitute about 1% of Uganda’s total population of 34.6million24. The 1995 Constitution (amended in 2005) recognises 65 indigenous groups, including the Batwa,25 who reside in the South-western districts Bundibugyo, Rukungiri, Kisoro, Kanungu and Kabale around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Echuya Central Forest Reserve and Semuliki National Park. With an estimated 6,200 people, they represent approximately 0.02% of Uganda’s population. Uganda’s Batwa, similar to other Batwa groups, are traditionally hunters and gatherers, historically dependent on forests for their survival, and using their knowledge of nature provided by the forest environment in which they live. Thus, in 2001, the Batwa in Bwindi asserted that “Our grandparents used to stay in the forests. We were born in the forest, our grandparents lived there since the first ancestors. It provided us with everything: roofing materials, materials to make ropes, honey, some pigs, antelopes and other small animals. The forest has been our home up to the time we were moved out.”26 The same sentiments were voiced in 2016 by the Batwa in Bundibugyo: “We belong to the forest, the forest has groomed us into who we are.27” Uganda’s Batwa indeed also maintain a spiritual relationship with the forest, which they believe to be their God-given source of livelihood. The Constitution of Uganda recognises indigenous minority groups, especially the vulnerable and marginalised, and specifically provides for the protection of the interests of indigenous and tribal peoples, especially with regard to equality and freedom from discrimination, protection from deprivation of property, affirmative action in favour of marginalised groups, protection of rights of minorities, and the right to culture and similar rights28. The Equal Opportunities Commission’s Act29 also reflects the need to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual or group of persons, although it does not expressly provide for the special needs of indigenous minorities, such as the Batwa. The Batwa are perceived in different ways by their neighbours and other Ugandans: on the one hand they suffer from a popular perception as barbaric, savage, wild, uncivilised, ignorant, and unclean, which has legitimised their exclusion from mainstream society3O. The Batwa from Kisoro and Bwindi were however feared and respected by the non-Batwa for their excellent archery skills31. Some Batwa established themselves as important persons at royal courts, received favours, and were given farmland. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Batwa now residing in Kisoro and Bwindi claimed affiliation to clans in Rwanda, paid allegiance to the Tutsi kings and paid tribute to the king’s court in ivory and animal skins, impongo (bushbuck) and inzobe (sitatunga). They were also entitled to collect a toll from caravans coming through their territory and payments of food and beer from farmers who encroached on the forest. The Batwa were also part of a substantial military force, including archers. In the forest, the Batwa and other communities carried out logging / pit sawing, hunting and beekeeping as major economic activities, but these did not have significantly adverse impacts on the environment and were considered to be in tandem with sustainable natural resource use.32 More recently, due to their in-depth knowledge of the forest, the Batwa in Bundibugyo led by Geoffrey Inzito, were invited and aided the Government of Uganda to put a stop to rebel activities in Semuliki forest33. Currently, the Batwa communities engage in a range of economic activities such as making crafts, spears, arrows and walking sticks that are sold to neighbouring communities. Their herbalists provide herbs and spiritual treatment to local communities, while many Batwa are engaged in collecting firewood and raw materials for crafts from the forests and wetlands which are sold or exchanged with neighbours of food.34 Some are employed as stock-minders, labourers in gardens and servants in their neighbours’ households.35 The loss of land has forced a sizeable number of Batwa people to become transient squatters on land on which they are expected to live as labourers, tenants, and to migrate to cities where they live a destitute life.36 A report by Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development acknowledges that: “[the Batwa] have recently suffered eviction from forest-land (Mgahinga Game Reserve) because of voluntary and involuntary factors (…) they have lost their territorial rights and accessibility to ancestral forested lands. 8 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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The entire community of Batwa are poor and depend on begging as a form of livelihood. Most are landless – out of about 2,000 Batwa pygmies in Western Uganda, only 74 have land – and are widely regarded as people ‘with no rights’37 The same report recommended that “freedom and means of livelihood of minorities should be respected, especially with regard to land use.”38 Kabananukye (1996) primarily attributes this situation to the establishment of national parks, made feasible by the forceful eviction of Batwa from their traditional lands with no or little compensation.39 It has proved hard for the Batwa to maintain their right to land and to claim compensation, partly because these rights are neither expressly protected in law nor recognised in the customary land rights system.40 Thus, the district authorities in Bundibugyomade it clear that the Semuliki Forest is government property and that the Government “cannot compensate the Batwa for government land,” although it could identify an alternative location for them to be resettled. While the Government of Uganda recognises the Batwa’s plight, there is limited concerted effort to practically address the challenges they face as a result of eviction from the National Parks. The Batwa have made numerous attempts to voice their concerns through consultations and discussions with local councils, various government departments, the Parliament of Uganda, as well as international and regional human rights mechanisms. To date however, no concrete reparation measures have been put in place by national authorities. In 2013, the Batwa communities from Mgahinga and Bwindi filed a petition before Uganda’s Constitutional Court, seeking justice for the violation of their land rights. According to UOBDU41 the Batwa are seeking recognition of their status as indigenous people under international law and redress for the historic marginalisation and continuous human rights violations they have experienced as a result of being dispossessed of their ancestral forest lands. The case is on-going. Uganda is a State Party to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Covenant and has been requested on several occasions to address the human rights concerns of indigenous people. In 2006, the African Commission asked Uganda to “Ensure that the rights of indigenous people and other vulnerable groups are respected.”42 In 2009 and in 2011, the African Commission noted “The apparent lack of political will to take measures to realise the rights of indigenous populations especially the Batwa people as guaranteed under the Charter.” It expressed concern about the “exploitation, the discrimination and the marginalisation of indigenous populations, in particular the Batwa people of Uganda, who are deprived of their ancestral lands and live without any land titles” 43. The Commission recommended that Uganda should: “Adopt measures to ensure the effective protection of the rights of indigenous populations especially the Batwa people as guaranteed under the Charter by establishing laws that protect land rights and natural resources of indigenous populations”44. In response, the Government of Uganda stated in 2009 that it would look into the possibility of restoring land to the Batwa, that it valued and recognised the spiritual or religious dimension that land had for them and that tenure should be organised on the basis of that attachment to land. However, these have remained unheeded: at the 2015 session of the Committee, it was noted that: “The initial report of the Republic of Uganda unfortunately does not address the situation of indigenous peoples in the manner or to the extent required to ensure the progressive realisation of the rights in the Covenant.” The Batwa in Bundibugyo This report focuses on the Batwa community in Bundibugyo, a community that is both small in number and particularly marginalised because of the remoteness of its location. According to the Batwa in Bundibugyo, they migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, crossing into Uganda from a place called Mambiroand settled consecutively in various locations in and around the Semuliki forest, which they traditionally called Mabili.45 When a leader died, the community saw this as a bad omen and it moved to a new settlement. They would plant a tree (kisoghasogha) to mark the burial place so that children would be shown where their father was buried. They lived at Bubukwanga where Karamampaka, father of Hurangame and Inzito I (father of Geoffrey Inzito, the current leader of the Batwa in Bundibugyo) died and was buried, marked by a large ficus tree. After Inzito I’s death, they moved to Butwalibo, where they used the fishing ground in the 1950s and 1960s. The Batwa then settled in Hakibale, Mantoroba, Mpurya, and Kirumiya before being evicted and relocated to Bulondo. Kijabange, the then leader and father of Geoffrey Inzito, died and was buried at Bulondo, where his grave can still be found, marked by a pile of stones. The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 9

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In the forest, the Bundibugyo Batwa created spaces for hunting, burial grounds, and recreation. The Batwa obtained fruits, vegetables, honey, bush meat, herbal medicines, bark cloth and construction materials from the forest, which also has an important cultural and spiritual function in their lives,with ancestral grounds and their god called Apelele found there. Traditional methods and medicine were used to cut the umbilical cord of a new-born baby and to circumcise a boy child. If sick, a child would be taken to Apelele for healing. According to Geoffrey Inzito, “Life in the forest was good. We had a lot of good food, fruits, vegetables, honey and variety of meat and fish. We made mild palm wine and we would relax sheltered from the direct sunshine. We were healthy and happy.” Dance is important to the Batwa. As one of them said, “We as Baswa, when we do not dance we feel very bad”. The Batwa perform different dances for celebration and mourning the dead. Women and men dance separately with the men performing the luma and mapku, while the women perform the muledhu. Semuliki Park is well-known for its equatorial forest and its hot springs The Batwa are traditionally monogamous and belong to different clans, such as the Babukwanga, Balese, Bandimulaku, Bandihunde, Bambuba, Bandibukusu, Bandibagudde, Bandimbere and Bandikutendyani.46 In the forest, their leader (Mbehu) resolved conflicts, especially regarding fighting and quarreling. They would congregate under a large ficus tree (bonga mbengu) where the leader and the rest of the community would listen to disputes and collectively take decisions on a suitable punishment. This tree was also a place where hunters would receive herbs before going out, and where food and meat would be shared. While in the forest, the Batwa were about 300 but these numbers decreased gradually due to diseases. There are now about 160 (comprising 17 families),47 currently found in Ntandi Town Council. Eviction from Semliki National Park In 1932, Semuliki Forest Reserve, located in present day Bundibugyo district, was created and forest villages evacuated as a measure to control sleeping sickness and yellow fever. In 1993, the reserve was turned into a National Park. It covers an area of 219 sq km and is part of the Central African Congo Basin forest system, separated from the Ituri forest in the Congo by the Semuliki River. The Park, which is located within the Albertine Rift, the western arm of the Great Rift Valley48, has one of the richest floral and faunal diversity in Africa. With its establishment, the Batwa were removed from Semuliki and put in a small camp called Kabwero along the roadside where they stayed until they were relocated to Bulondo. All human activity was prohibited, in spite of the great social and cultural significance of the forest to the Batwa community. The Batwa in Bwindi, Mgahinga and Semuliki National Parks were evicted by the Government of Uganda – a recipient of funding for conservation from international organisations such as IUCN, the World Wildlife 10 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank, towards the establishment and maintenance of these National Parks which -inadvertently or not – resulted in the eviction of the Batwa. The literature reviewed suggests that the application of international standards was not respected and that the Batwa were evicted without their free, prior, and informed consent.49 None of the international organisations involved raised concern about the livelihood of the communities that once resided in the gazetted areas. There was no specific law that defined the justification, objectives, process and management of eviction of communities from forest reserves that were gazetted as National Parks. In the absence of an eviction policy, there was no particular process to follow. In each Park, the eviction was spearheaded by UWA and guided by the provisions in the Uganda Wildlife Act. This did not include provisions for human resettlement or address the consequences of eviction, it focused largely on the protection and preservation of flora and fauna, maintaining ecological systems, biodiversity and water catchments, and states that any person who unlawfully hunts, takes, kills, injures or disturbs any wild plant or animal or any domestic animal in any wildlife conservation area commits an offence.50 Further, in the view of the Authority, resettlement is the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister and Local Government, and not of UWA.51 In the case of Bundibugyo, although the Uganda Wildlife Act (Section 25(5) provides for resettlement of any persons resident in a wildlife conservation area, this was not the case with the Batwa. The Park authorities maintained their basic responsibility to manage the National Park; there was no post eviction arrangement to ensure that the Batwa were resettled in the host community. According to Charles Okuta52, “Once out of the National Park, the Batwa are the responsibility of the Local Government that makes general development provisions for all Ugandans”. This shift in responsibility was however not formalised through an institutional arrangement, and the Batwa were left to fend for themselves. No special provisions or affirmative action was taken to recognise the dire consequences of eviction, although the Park authorities indicate that modalities were established to permit regulated access for the Batwa to harvest medicinal herbs, collect firewood and other items for their livelihood and welfare. Moreover, unlike the Batwa in Bwindi and Mgahinga who often resided in the community but lived off the forest resources with most of them settling on the margins of the forest, the Batwa in Bundibugyo resided in the forest. No special provision was made to reflect the significant change of livelihood they would experience once evicted from the forest. They lacked basic skills to survive in the environment outside the forest and many of them became beggars on the road. At the time of this documentation, there is no public report on the eviction process and its outcomes. There were no parliamentary debates on the eviction decision or how these processes should be handled, but a number of host and evicted communities complained. It was during this time that the concept of multiple use conservation was promoted across the globe. International conservation organisations such as IUCN, CARE and USAID also integrated multiple use conservation in their conditional funding for conservation in Uganda. In Bwindi and Mgahinga, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) established the Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT) in 1991. The Trust’s objectives are to conserve biodiversity and transfer benefits to communities adjacent to the park, causing development through conservation and introducing multiple use conservation programmes. According to the Trust Administrator, 326 acres of land were purchased for distribution to the Batwa in this region, houses constructed, seeds distributed, and children educated. There are however divergent views on the ultimate outcomes of the Trust’s objectives regarding the fulfilment of applicable standards for indigenous peoples’ rights and the effective representation and participation of the Batwa. The Batwa in Bundibugyo were not beneficiaries of this arrangement or any other structural or institutional intervention to address their plight53. Since 1996, UWA has been operating a Revenue Sharing Scheme under which communities neighbouring National Parks are granted 20% of the gate collections. These funds are channelled through the local government authorities. Currently,community projects are vetted by a District Committee (or Council), which consists of the Conservation Warden and representatives from local government. Projects are often selected on the basis of communities with the largest population and the quality of project proposals submitted. With very small numbers and very low levels of education, the Batwa cannot access these funds. No special provision or affirmative action has been taken by UWA to ensure that a percentage of the revenue sharing collection is allocated to those The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 11

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who have been severely affected by the eviction. Further, according to Charles Okuta, the Park receives relatively low revenue compared to other National Parks countrywide and the scheme has not been fully implemented. The bonga mbengu tree in Semliki Forest 12 The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo

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5. THE CONSEQUENCES OF EVICTION Today, most of the Batwa live in Ntandi Town Council and face challenges that can directly and indirectly be linked to their eviction from the forest and to the limited support they have received to minimise the consequences of this decision. Poor living conditions and landlessness There are currently an estimated 160 Batwa adults and children living in the centre of Ntandi trading centre, on a piece of land that is less than2 acres in size. They reside in semi-permanent buildings, which are in a deplorable state of disrepair, shared by all – young and old - and lacking proper sanitary facilities. Since 1993, the Batwa have received donations to purchase land and make productive use of it from different organisations. In 1993, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency(ADRA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with district authorities to provide services to the Batwa by constructing houses for them, but these were abandoned due to the noise on the iron sheets from rain. They are said to have demolished the buildings and sold the roofing sheets to their neighbours. In 2005, the European Union donated UGS.600 million to the Batwa community through RWIDE,a communitybased organisation, to purchase land and construct permanent housing for the Batwa, among other provisions. One piece of land of about 1.5 acres was purchased by RWIDE in Bumagga, in collaboration with Ntandi Sub-County for the resettlement of the Batwa but, when the new Fort Portal - Bundibugyoroad was built, the structures were demolished. At the time of writing, the Batwa and respondents interviewed said they were not aware of any compensation made by the Uganda National Roads Authority. To date there are no permanent structures in the Batwa settlement in Ntandi. RWIDE is no longer operational in the district. None of the state institutions mandated to oversee local governance and development has taken the initiative to follow this issue up and hold RWIDE accountable, given that non-governmental organisations are registered at district and national levels. According to Ibra Masereka, the CDO Ntandi Sub-County, the land agreements (not yet processed into land titles) for the three small pieces of agricultural purchased for the Batwa, are held in the Community Development Office for safekeeping against illegal sale to unscrupulous people. The Ntandi settlement The eviction of the Batwa from Semuliki Forest, Bundibugyo 13

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