Picture below is RWECO coordinator receiving men hair cutting assorted saloon materials & equipment support & mobilized by KALI to support & skill the Batwa ethnic minority to enhance their economic rights
KALI in partnership with RWECO are implementing a project on community actions to prevent and manage conflicts and human rights Violations in Rwenzori region funded by Hivos. Target groups are women, youth, Ethnic minority groups, Frontline communities along National Parks, PWDs, elderly and PLHAs with in project areas. However, it was agreed after a round of field support Visit across the project area that in all the four districts, ethnic minority groups are in Kasese and Bundibugyo. Thus, KALI & Ride Africa from Kamwenge & Ntoroko jointly conducted community sensitization meetings on conflict prevention and rights in Bundibugyo where a highly marginalized Batwa Family (Internationally known ethnic minority) exists. This activity was about sensitizing the Batwa ethnic minority on their economic rights as equal citizens of Uganda. This activity was coordinated by RIC-NET the IP in Bundibugyo.
During the sensitization, Coordinator RWECO reminded participants how the Batwa used to be invited for functions at district, regional and national level to perform MDD but this had ended. The Batwa were sensitized on their rights are; Right to food, right to life and medical care among others. The Batwa were also reminded of their responsibilities, when a child is denied food, that’s abuse of right to food which is a responsibility of the parent.
The organizations sensitized Batwa on their right to participate in activities around them and government programs like youth livelihood and operation wealth creation to enhance their economic rights like other Ugandans. KALI through her lobbying managed to mobilize for assorted hair shaving set (consumable & none consumable) including the shaving machine to support the Batwa boys’ school dropouts in self-help skills. Ride Africa mobilized for hair dressing skills to Batwa girls & identified a service provider to train both boys and girls. RWECO-CU mobilized for sewing/tailoring machine. Progress monitoring will be done by RIC-NET.
Present was the C/Man LC.III, Ntandi T/C. He appreciated KALI/RWECO for the support mobilized during the sensitization meeting. C/man accepted the challenge KALI gave him & other partners working with the Batwa Community by thinking of skilling the youth in self-help initiatives like; tailoring hair dressing & cutting for both Batwa boys and girls. He acknowledged that he had never known Batwa can be given something & it’s not sold the next day as it has been in the past.
The C/man pledged to support & lobby for more machines to strengthen the economic empowerment initiative kick started by KALI/RWECO. He added that he was going to ensure the Batwa are given priority in every government program now that they have shown signs of picking up. He requested RWECO to lobby for government support to the BATWA COMMUNITY because when government evicted them from the forest, they were not officially settled thus, no land and nothing at all for sustainable livelihoods like any other Ugandan.
Below, The C/man LC.III Ntandi T/C making his commitment at the Batwa Community sensitization meeting.
58 (19 females and 39 males) attended the sensitization meeting. 80 were expected to turn up but there was a burial in the neighborhood which affected attendance.
Objectives of the activity was;
- To sensitize the Batwa ethnic minority of their rights and responsibilities like other Ugandans
- To organize the Batwa community come up with CSO, use it to mobilize for their economic rights.
- To lobby other partners both CSOs and local leadership for economic rights support to the Batwa minority group of Bundibugyo.
Challenges met and mitigation measures
High expectation from the Batwa Community. They have been used to handouts by other NGOs. We supported them to come up with draft of their CBO constitution which is going to help them get re-organized, participate in income generating activities to enhance their economic rights.
Recommendations and immediate follow up actions
- The Batwa need more economic rights support. The youth enrolled for tailoring, salon hair dressing and cutting should be followed up for further support & capacity building.
- Follow up on the District and town council authorities on their position towards supporting the economic rights of Batwa Ethnic minority community
- Pic. below,KALI staff during the sensitizing the Batwa on their rights to participate in government programs like other ugandans
Above pic is Ihunde of ride africa in vail as coordinator RWECO hands over sewing machine to the king of the Batwa Community.
The Batwa community of Bundibugyo are able to transform and cop up with normal life style if properly managed. The girls who were enrolled for hair dressing had finished a week attending lessons regularly. Those of Kisoro District have been able to change due to focused and participatory involvement in programs like education and skills training.