In 2000 the Batwa organized themselves and formed their own organisation, the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU). Its aim is to support Batwa in south west Uganda to address their land problems and help them develop sustainable alternative livelihoods. Through its Batwa members, UOBDU has identified four key areas it hopes to address including:
- Land and Housing;
- Education and Adult Literacy;
- Income Generation including Agriculture; and
- Forest Access and Benefit-Sharing.
Among these priority areas, securing their rights to land and forest resources are an integral part of Batwa’s own strategy to build more secure livelihoods, since their landlessness and restricted access to forests have contributed so significantly to their persistent social and economic marginalisation in Southwest Uganda.
FPP has supported UOBDU since its creation in 2000. In the early years of the organisation UOBDU spent a great deal of time lobbying government, NGOs and donors in the region to include Batwa communities within their programmes. As a result today there have been significant changes to NGO and donor programmes, with most now accepting the need to design and implement special measures to help Batwa overcome their poverty, landlessness and socio-economic marginalisation.
UOBDU is now working hard to ensure that Batwa communities across the region are able to participate fully in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of new initiatives targeting them. This work is in addition to its continued work to help Batwa overcome the negative impacts from existing projects, including conservation projects such as Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks, which overlay traditional forests upon which Batwa livelihoods have relied.