By Spencer Pedun
Recently, the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) has concluded receiving applications from tourism operators seeking to access funds to recover from the effects of Covid-19. The government through the tourism ministry received six (6) million Euro (25.5 billion) stimulus package from the EU towards the private tourism sector for post lockdown operations.
The package was channeled through UDB to enable the tourism operators to rebuild the sector through upgrading their facilities in line the standard operating procedures set by the government.
The sector continues to be the biggest foreign exchange earner to the National economy and employs the majority of Ugandan.
Majority of women who make up 54% of tourism workforce youth and workers in the informal economy are among the most at risk categories. The sudden fall in tourism cut off funding for biodiversity conservation has placed jobs at a risk and has led to rise in poaching, looting and in consumption of bushmeat partially due to the decreased presence of tourists.
In Kidepo Valley National Park, community involvement in nature tourism show how communities have been able to protect their cultural and natural heritage while creating wealth and improving their wellbeing.
The impact of COVID-19 on tourism communities places further pressure on heritage conservation as well as on the cultural and social fabric of communities, particularly for indigenous people and ethnic groups, for instance, many intangible cultural heritage practices such as traditional festivals and gatherings have been halted or postponed and with the closure of markets for handicrafts products and other goods, indigenous women’s revenue have been particularly impacted and has led to encroachment of the parks.
Communities such as Lorukul, Kipope and Karenga villages largely depend on tourism were left uncertainty on how to survive the post effects of Covid 19, which has pushed them to encroach on the park looking for food and income.
Therefore, I call upon the government to strengthen the resilience capacity of communities to diversify their livelihoods and promote ecosystem conservation through climate-smart agriculture, plant of fruit seedling and encourage beekeeping along the conservation areas.
Spencer Pedun is the Project Assistant at Environment Government Institute (EGI)
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