In Uganda, many Batwa are homeless and isolated from their forests. For the women of the community, the situation is particularly challenging; rather than being able to gather foods from the forest, they must walk from one place to another in search of shelter, food and poorly paid work. Violence and discrimination are rife.
At the end of three intense days of discussion, exchange and drafting, representatives from the Ik, Tepeth, Batwa, Benet and Ngikarimajong have released the Kisoro Memorandum, a definitive statement of their rights and expectations for support from their government and from other actors, including the UN system.
FPP welcomed the opportunity during the 16th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to support IWGIA in raising important issues to the attention of the Forum regarding the issuance of waivers by the World Bank to key safeguard policies, including in the case of an investment into agricultural development in Tanzania.
Guest article from Helen Tugendhat in the Bretton Woods Project Observer regarding the World Bank’s decision to grant a waiver of OP4.10 for an agricultural investment project in Tanzania.
Click here to read the article (offsite link)
Intimidation of land rights defenders in Tanzania must stop, says international human rights organisation Forest Peoples Programme.
Alternative report to the Initial report of the Republic of Uganda to be presented at the 55th session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 1st – 19th June 2015
Tanzania indigenous organisations have written to the World Bank to express their concern at the overall weakening of the policy requirements for indigenous peoples in the draft of the proposed World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS). Concerns include implications for the denial of the existence and rights of indigenous peoples under international human rights law, lack of meaningful and effective participation, forced eviction and lack of access to information.
On 8th February 2013, the Batwa of Uganda submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda seeking recognition of their status as indigenous peoples 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 by the government.
Before their eviction, the Batwa had lived in the forest since immemorial times. The measures taken to remove the Batwa, to create ‘environmentally protected’ areas, and to limit access and use of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Echuya Central Forest Reserve, resulted in the violation of the Batwa’s property rights over their ancestral lands. While colonial protection of the forest started in the 1920s, most Batwa continued to live in the forest and to use its resources until the 1990s; when they were evicted, without consultation, adequate compensation or offer of alternative land.
What are the prospects for securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women in the foreseeable future?
Significantly, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal 1 to “End Poverty”, sets a target to “Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets”.
A gender workshop organised in Kisoro, south-western Uganda, from the 19-21 November 2012 that aimed to initiate indigenous people in general aspects of gender, has ended successfully.
The workshop was facilitated by the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) and Forest Peoples Programme and hosted fifty Batwa men and women from the districts of Kanungu, Mbarara, Kabale and Kisoro. Youngsters aged 14 - 20 also attended the workshop.
The importance of ensuring respect for the rights of forest peoples’ to control their forests, lands and livelihoods, becomes ever clearer and yet more contested. As the articles in this edition of our newsletter starkly reveal, land and resource grabs are not just being imposed by commercial developers but are being actively promoted by governments, whose principle responsibility should be to protect the rights of citizens. Yet these same impositions are also being resisted, sometimes at great personal cost, by local communities and indigenous peoples.
Uganda's first Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling Project was organised in 2011 in Kisoro by the Batwa, former hunter-gatherers who were evicted from two national parks 20 years ago. Watch the video here.
In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context.
Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.
The land rights of indigenous peoples and human rights of minority communities were discussed in Kampala, Uganda on 4th March 2011 during the first East Africa Regional Dialogue on Minority Community Rights. The event came as a result of the collaboration of many national and international organisations including the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda, Forest Peoples Programme, Minority Rights Group International, Institute for Law & Environmental Governance, Uganda Land Alliance and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment. The dialogue was attended by representatives of indigenous peoples and minority communities from throughout the East African region as well as government and civil society organisations from Uganda and Kenya. Honoured guests included the Minister of State for Gender and Culture from Uganda and the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, former Commissioner of the African Commission Bahame Tom Nyanduga, representatives from the African Commission’s Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities, as well as indigenous leaders from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
Paragraphs 39-40 contain recommendations towards the rights of Batwa women.
The Batwa of south-west Uganda, through their organisation, the United Organisation for Batwa Development (UOBDU), officially opened their new joint tourism venture with the Uganda Wildlife Authority on July 1st, 2010. A related news article “Trail of hope for Uganda's lost Pygmy tribe” in The Guardian, 17 July, 2010, notes that “...for the first time, the Batwa have a stake in the conservation and management of the national park, even though they still live outside it.” Click here to read the full Guardian article.