Promoting the rights of the batwa people

Equal Earth Experience Project

Exclusion from ancestral land

Since the unlawful eviction of Uganda’s indigenous Batwa in the 1990s, the profit-maximizing tourist projects inside these forests, have in large excluded the Batwa from entering or managing their ancestral lands. By that, they were made dependent on either falling in line with capitalist agricultural production techniques, guiding trophy hunters, or imitating cultural elements as a form of entertainment for tourists.

The process of division

Before the Batwa were evicted from their homes to make place for national parks in the 1990s, they used forest herbs to cure different diseases. This led to an increase in maternal, child, and infant mortality rates among the Batwa communities.
This process of division from the natural environment began already when in 1932 the first two forests were gazetted as crown forest reserves by the British colonial office.

Equal Earth Experience Project

The situation of the Batwa living in Uganda has further deteriorated dramatically because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2020, interns of the Institute for Structural Analysis of Cultural Systems (SACS) and the Akkon University Berlin, worked together with the Ugandan Batwa Indigenous Development Organization (BIDO) on the development of the Equal Earth Experience (EEE) Project. The EEE wants to promote the rights of the Batwa as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and draw attention to the need for participation in the use and management of nature reserves in Uganda.

A holistic approach

The holistic approach of the EEE project ranges from health to WASH, education about the impacts of the climate crisis on the loss of biodiversity, and how decolonization of international aid and economy could interfere with continuous loss and damage of the planet. Suitable partners are contacted according to the wishes and demands of the Batwa, who are interviewed beforehand to ensure free, prior, and especially informed consent (FPIC).

The main goal is to support the batwa regaining agency

Project objectives

  • Support and strengthen the efforts of Batwa to regain agency

Activities needes in the project

  • Inquiry of FPIC before discussion on UNDRIP, the lack of monitoring mechanisms, and its impacts on indigenous peoples take place, prior to the needs assessment through interviews

Intended results of the project

  • Opinion poll on most urgent needs
  • Assessment of knowledge level on indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Guideline for the future on demands of Batwa for social and digital inclusion

Possible challenges

  • The situation of Batwa is considered a complex humanitarian emergency that is especially affected by the triple crisis (Finance, Food, and Climate Crisis)
  • Finding suitable partners according to an established opinion poll on needs and wishes
  • Obtaining the necessary funding for established Budget on needs and demands

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