Why Is Government Silent On The Boundary Issues Between Mt. Elgon National Park And The Neighboring Communities?

By Emma Bwayo

Mt. Elgon National Park spans across eight districts in the Sebei and Bugisu sub-regions, including Bukwo, Kween, Kapchorwa, Bulambuli, Sironko, Bududa, Mbale, and Namisindwa. This park benefits over 15 million people in its vicinity and is home to approximately 5,000 individuals who are accused of encroaching on its land.

The park not only provides clean water through its rivers but also serves as a source of food and medicine for many. Furthermore, it is one of the country’s major tourist attractions.

However, the people living near the park have been accusing the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) of harassment and the destruction of their crops during each harvesting season. On the other hand, UWA brands these individuals as encroachers who seek attention. Disturbingly, records indicate that from 2012 until now, fifteen game rangers and ten residents have lost their lives due to conflicts stemming from the boundary issue between UWA and the local communities surrounding Mountain Elgon National Park.

The root of this issue can be traced back to 1983 when the government decided to degazette a portion of the park’s land and allocate it for settlement. Conflicts arose when the government later sought to reclaim the land.

Recently, UWA has been engaged in numerous operations aimed at profiling the so-called “encroachers,” resulting in the destruction of crops and harassment of local farmers. This has become an annual occurrence, raising the crucial question: Where is the government in all of this?

Despite several meetings between the government, local leaders, and key stakeholders, no concrete results or resolutions have been reached. This begs the question of whether the government is genuinely committed to addressing the ongoing conflicts between UWA and the people residing near the park.

It is important to find a balance between conservation efforts and the respect for human rights.

The writer is a Journalist, and Member of the European Union Sounding Board-Opinion expressed here is that of an individual not the company-Editor.



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