Ugandan Batwa meet with government leaders in Kampala

Ugandan Batwa meeting with the Acting Chairperson of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission in Kampala, December 2009

Ugandan Batwa meet with government leaders in Kampala

In December 2009, the Batwa community in south-west Uganda and their own representative organisation, the United Organisation of Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU), continued their efforts to secure their rights by holding a series of meetings with local and national level government representatives.

In the last couple of years the Batwa in Uganda have been meeting regularly in an attempt to gain control of the advocacy strategies that are fought on their behalf and to ensure that they are the ones to lead and direct such strategies. As a result, Batwa representatives from every community in south-west Uganda are now in a position to actively take hold of their own advocacy and have been working to engage all stakeholders to raise awareness of their situation and to begin dialogue with government representatives.

At the start of 2009, the Batwa produced a Declaration calling on the government to address their dispossession of their ancestral lands. To reinforce the demands of the Declaration and owing to the failure of the government to provide a response, the Batwa decided to make their demands in person and travel to the capital Kampala to meet with government representatives.

Although in Kampala for only two days, the Batwa were able to meet with representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Uganda Human Rights Commission. The latter agreed to visit south-west Uganda to report on the situation of the Batwa. These meetings were, in many cases, the first opportunity for the Batwa to personally discuss their situation with high-level members of government ministries and departments and signalled their attempts to personally hold these offices to account. It is hoped that in the coming months the Batwa will be able to maintain this momentum and make regular visits back to the capital to continue their advocacy at the highest levels.