Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU)



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.


FPP continues to support UOBDU and the Batwa of south west Uganda primarily through its human and legal rights programmes.  Since 2006, UOBDU has focused on securing the Batwa’s rights to lands, both those they currently live on outside the forest and those lands which make up their ancestral territories and which are currently protected through conservation projects.  The aim of this work is to support the Batwa communities to be the leaders of their own rights based struggles through the provision of training and information sharing as well as through the creation of opportunities for the Batwa to take their struggle directly to the policy makers at the local, national, regional and international level.

Local Level

FPP is supporting UOBDU to lobby local governments to respond to the landlessness of the Batwa by providing parcels of land upon which the Batwa can live and farm.  UOBDU is also providing support to the Batwa communities so that they are aware of their rights and able to present their situation to locally elected individuals at the village or parish level.

National Level

UOBDU is continuing to lobby key government departments and Ministries in the hope that a specific and direct response will be offered by the government.  This lobbying includes high level meetings with government officials as well as media work to inform the wider public about the situation of the Batwa.

Regional Level

UOBDU has attended the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on a number of occasions and in partnership with FPP has submitted two alternative reports on the occasion of the submission of the Uganda States scheduled submissions to the commission.

International Level

At the international level UOBDU has been able to represent the situation of its members regularly in forums that includes the CBD, IUCN and UN amongst others.

It is hoped that by opening spaces in policy, and supporting Batwa communities to utilize those spaces, the Batwa will have a greater chance to sustainably manage and freely determine their lands and livelihoods.

Relevant resources

Syndicate content

FPP E-Newsletter December 2013 (PDF Version)

Forest Peoples Programme

3 December, 2013

FPP E-Newsletter December 2013

Dear Friends,

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”.

Read more

FPP E-Newsletter July 2013 (PDF Version)


9 July, 2013

FPP E-Newsletter July 2013

Dear Friends,

Mutual recognition, mutual respect and mutual benefit are among the desirable attributes of all human relationships. Indigenous peoples and other forest peoples also expect these qualities in their relationships with others – be they governments, private corporations, NGOs or other indigenous peoples’ organisations and communities. This issue of Forest Peoples Programme’s E-Newsletter reports on the state of various relationships between forest peoples and different institutions – as these are forged, tested or broken –in the course of assertions for upholding basic human rights, social justice and solidarity.

Read more

Latest submission to the Convention on Biological Diversity

5 July, 2013

FPP and Natural Justice organised a joint submission to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in response to a request for contributions from Parties and stakeholders about the CBD’s programme of work that deals with traditional knowledge about biodiversity (Article 8j). 

Read more

Batwa indigenous people gain more skills in gender

10 December, 2012

Participants at gender workshop, November 2012, Kisoro, Uganda

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.

Read more

FPP E-Newsletter December 2012 (PDF Version)


10 December, 2012

FPP E-Newsletter December 2012

Dear Friends,

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.

Read more

New video: Participatory 3D Modelling - Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks, Uganda

3 January, 2012

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.

Read more

Ugandan Batwa complete 3-D Model of their Bwindi Forest ancestral area

7 July, 2011

Batwa participants applying their traditional knowledge to the model. Uganda, 2011

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.

Read more

Endorois decision on indigenous peoples’ rights informs high level regional meeting in Africa

14 April, 2011

First East Africa Regional Dialogue on Minority Community Rights, Kampala, Uganda, 4 March 2011

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.

Read more

Press Release: International Union for the Conservation of Nature to review and advance implementation of the ‘new conservation paradigm’, focusing on rights of indigenous peoples. January 14, 2011

14 January, 2011

High-level dialogue between indigenous peoples' representatives and IUCN leaders at Sharing Power Conference, NZ - January 2010

Indigenous peoples’ representatives met with Chairs of Commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other conservation organizations, for a high-level dialogue during the Sharing Power conference, in Whakatane, New Zealand, on January 13th, 2011. IUCN agreed to review the implementation of resolutions related to indigenous peoples taken at the 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC4) in 2008, in Barcelona, Spain, and to advance their implementation. These resolutions, along with the Durban Action Plan and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), are often termed as the “new conservation paradigm”. They are crucial for ensuring that conservation practices respect the rights of indigenous peoples and their full and effective participation in policy and practice. Unfortunately, the actual implementation of these decisions in support of indigenous peoples has been very patchy. The information gathered by the IUCN review processes will feed into its 2013-2016 Programme, to be discussed and adopted in September 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea.

Specifically, the meeting participants agreed that IUCN will:

·       Reinforce its multi-level process (encompassing international, regional, national and local levels) to assess and advance the implementation of the “new conservation paradigm”. This process would focus on specific WCC4 resolutions relevant to indigenous peoples.

·       Implement pilot assessments of protected areas at the local level that should be carried out by teams composed of indigenous peoples, IUCN national and international offices, government officials and other relevant actors. The pilot assessments should specify recommendations to address gaps between the observed practices and the ‘new conservation paradigm’. The findings will be reported in national workshops, which will then explore ways to implement the recommendations from the assessments. The assessments would also bring examples of successful projects and best practices to the international community.

·       Carry out a review of the implementation of each of the WCC4 resolutions relevant to indigenous peoples, based on information from commissions and regional and global thematic programmes. This review will identify gaps and make recommendations to address them, which will be included in IUCN’s 2013-2016 Programme.

·       Submit reports on these matters to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the CBD. 

·       Spread awareness of WCC4 resolutions on indigenous peoples to all national IUCN offices.

·       Improve the coordination between regional and national IUCN offices and indigenous peoples’ organizations.

Read more