By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus - After the major blow that Uganda's tourism sector dealt this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a ray of light came in form of a US$ 3.3 million (UGX12.3 billion) partnership agreement between the World Bank and the Swedish Government aimed to support conservation of nature-based tourism resources in Uganda.
According to an article by The Independent, “the grant which will be disbursed over two years will among other benefits target activities that are aimed at improving monitoring and securing forest and protected area resources and community livelihoods in selected landscapes within the Albertine region of Uganda.”
Furthermore, a decent amount of the funds is to also go into bolstering sustainable livelihoods of people who live adjacent to central forest reserves and national parks.
“We believe that this project shall contribute to increased capacity of NFA and UWA and will also lay a foundation for future collaboration and support from other development partners,” said Ola Hällgren, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden.
“We remain committed to supporting Uganda to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions to combat climate change while attaining economic growth that does not adversely affect the environment,” added Hällgren.
As it is, Uganda has lost most of its forest cover in the last thirty years, in that it has reduced from 24 percent in 1990, to 8 percent and when it comes to wetland coverage on the surface area of Uganda, it was 15.6% in 1994 according to the Uganda Wetlands Atlas prepared by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
Unfortunately, over the last two decades, these have diminished so much. By 2008, wetland coverage had plunged to 10.9% and currently, coverage stands at 8.9% and it is projected to further shrink to 1.6% by 2040.
According to Tom Okello Obong, the Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority, an undisclosed amount of this grant is to be used to monitor forests like Budongo, Bugoma, Kasyoha-Kitoma, Wambabya and Kalizu central forest reserves.