UWA to recruit 800 rangers for game parks

GULU – In a bid to ensure sustainable management of wildlife and protected areas, Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] is to recruit 800 rangers to boost security.

In a press statement, John Samuel Mwandha, the Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority revealed that the planned nationwide recruitment targets youth between 20-30 years.

The exercise scheduled for June 8, 2022, will be conducted in the different districts that include Masindi, Kabarole, Kiruhura, Mbale, Rubirizi and Karenga in Kidepo National Park.

Mwandha explained that the exercise is to reinforce operations and security in the game parks, conservation areas and wildlife sanctuaries, but also to reduce the escalating wildlife-human conflicts that have seen both humans and animals killed.

UWA manages 10 National parks, 12 wildlife conservations, five communities based, and 13 wildlife sanctuaries.

The parks include; Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls, Kidepo, Mt.Elgon, Rwenzori Mountains, Semuliki, Mgahinga Gorilla, and Bwindi impenetrable Park.

Meanwhile, the rift valley landscapes and tropical forests make a dramatic backdrop to an extensive variety of flora and fauna which attracts hundreds of tourists and visitors to the country.

Tourism is one of Uganda’s economic mainstays which earned the country US$1.5 billion in 2019 financial year, according to UWA.

The Chief Warden of UWA Murchison Falls National Park Wilson Kagoro noted that inadequate human resource is affecting the management of the wildlife-protected areas.

However, Mwandha recently told the Parliament that at least 17 rangers and 9 suspected poachers have been killed during the different operations in the last 20 years.

The Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights recently summoned UWA to respond to the status of the human rights observations in the wildlife-protected areas.

The report submitted to the Committee includes alleged torture, human rights abuses, arbitrary arrests, detentions and extrajudicial killings against the communities neighbouring the parks.

The hostilities between the rangers and the communities amounted to 21 cases of human rights violations reported to the Human Rights Tribunal against UWA.

At least 18 of the cases were reported from Mt.Elgon and three from Murchison Falls National Park, resulting from unresolved land cases in court, resistance to arrests, and attempts to disarm the rangers.


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Local media urged to enhance coverage of PWDs

AMURIA– National Union of Women with Disability [NUWODU] has appealed to the media in Uganda to bolster the coverage of persons with disabilities [PWDs] but also report positively on this segment of the population.

May Nanziri, the NUWODU Programme Officer Amuria Cluster, said the media coverage of PWDs has not been impressive and has misrepresented the PWDs in some instances.

She explained that increasing media coverage on disability issues and use of a positive non-discriminatory language when reporting on PWDs, is a good step toward changing the narrative of derogatory, stigmatisation and discrimination against PWDs.

Nanziri made the statement this week during training of 40 selected journalists from different media houses in Teso sub-region on inclusive reporting held at Petua Gardens in Katakwi district.

The training follows continued discriminatory language being used by a section of the public in describing PWDs and mental health conditions.

The participants were sensitised on topics such as; Understanding the disability situation in Uganda, Models of Disabilities and Needs, and rights of people with disabilities.

According to Nanziri, language, religion and culture remained the topmost factors influencing stigmatization and discrimination, which had a huge impact on self-esteem, adding that the media had a major role to play in those areas.

She said that sometimes disability is a perspective and that persons with disabilities should be addressed by their personality and not by their condition.

Nanziri urged journalists to be the agenda setters by ensuring that laws around disability were functioning as stated in the Constitution as this can help break the barrier and build an all-inclusive system.

Nanziri observed that many great stories about disability go unpublished, yet such challenges, woes, and stories of PWDs need to be heard.

He pointed out that there is need for the media to allow PWDs to speak for themselves other than allowing their guardians to speak for them. “They have a story to tell. Some of the stories are very revealing,” she said.

Kenneth W. Massa, the facilitator of the training educated the participants on the need for a paradigm shift in reporting disability issues, particularly where persons with hearing impairment are called the “Dumb”.

He stressed that the negative language is fueling the stigma and discrimination against such persons.

“Treat adult PWDs as adults, ask them how they want to communicate, don’t just assume. Be patient with them and understand their position as PWDs, don’t even offer to help when they have not asked for it,” Massa advised.”

Massa implored participants to set the agenda of positive language and the promotion of the success stories of persons living with disability, rather than dwelling on their challenges to make headlines.

Meanwhile, Sarah Aguti, the Programme Officer NUWODU Katakwi district, stated that society would continue to look down on PWDs because of the negative way in which the media describes them.

She urged the media to focus on the positives of the disability community, citing the example of PWDs who have made it in life; for instance, in the academic circles where some of them had attained the highest levels of education.

Aguti also regretted that PWDs do not have access to some government buildings as they lack disability-friendly structures such as elevators, which said is a complete violation of PWDs’ fundamental rights.

Martha Aanyu, the Programme Manager at Kyoga Veritas (KVR) Radio in Soroti City said most journalists do not know the right words to use while writing stories involving PWDs.

“I’m sure that with the knowledge we have attained in this training today, there will be a paradigm shift in reporting disability issues in our respective media houses,” she said while speaking on behalf of journalists.

NUWODU is implementing a five-year AWESOME project in Katakwi and Amuria districts.

The project focuses on strengthening the women’s movement in Uganda to be more representative of diverse groups of women with collaboration advocacy voices that challenge social norms and influence policies and key decisions affecting them.


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Refugees demand for inclusion in govt programmes

LAMWO– Refugees settled in the three settlement centres in Lamwo district want to benefit from government programmes such as; Uganda Women Entrepreneurship program, (UWEP) and Youth Livelihood Fund, which are geared toward improving household incomes.

They argue that they are also needy just like the host communities.

Chairperson of refugees in Lamwo settlement, John Pasquale asked the government to include them in the programmes aimed at improving the lives of the natives, saying most donor funds received were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many of the funds from the donors were affected due to the prolonged Covid 19 pandemic and many benefits have been cut off, something that is impacting on us negatively,’’ he said

There are several government programmes running in various districts where we took refuge, if such categories like us are taken on board, we shall all improve on household income at the same pace, Pasquale said.

However, the deputy Resident Commissioner Oswin Oguti when contacted to comment on the matter said refugees should not compete with the natives, what is allocated to them by the development partners is enough to kick-start their lives.

“Most development partners allocate 70 percent of the aid to refugees and 30, percent goes to the host communities,’’ he advised, adding that the aid received by refugees can help them sustain their lives.

A total of 70,000 refugees are settled in the three settlement centres of Palabek- Kal, Palabek- Gem and Palabek- Ogiri all in Lamwo district.

In 2016, the government launched the UWEP programme at a tune of Shs 53 billion, to support women through the provision of interest-free credit and technical advice.

Government earmarked Shs265b to empower poor and unemployed youth countrywide in 2013. The Livelihood Programme targets unemployed youth.


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Lira land board secretary in trouble over corruption

LIRA– The acting secretary for Lira district land board, Pastor Francis Okello Olwa is in trouble again for illegally processing a land title for Mayor’s Gardens in Lira City and allocating part of the land to a top businessman in the city.

According to a source at Lira City Council, Okello Olwa was processing the title without notifying the council yet the board was suspended by the Lands minister two months ago.

“It raised a lot of queries because the district land board was suspended and secondly the City council didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the processing title for Lira mayor’s garden,” a source who declined to be quoted said.

“We have also learned that part of the land neighboring Shell fuel station was allocated to a businessman in the City,” he added.

Okello Olwa after he was arrested (Photo by Patrick O. Adupa)

Olwa who is a senior pastor at Truth Fountain West in Lira City was arrested in April 2022 while ferrying a heap of land-related documents in his car at night. He was released on police bond pending investigation.

But a few days later, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Judith Nabakooba, suspended the district land board.

“The purpose of this letter is to suspend the officials of the board to pave way for investigation into the allegation,” she added.

Among those that were supposed to be kicked out as per the minister’s letter were; Okello Olwa, Paul Cankoma (chairperson) and four others.

However, the district Chairperson, Richard Coxson Okello Orik has since turned down the minister`s directive to suspend the board members, saying he had not seen any crime committed by the board, therefore they could not leave office.

A team from State House Anti-corruption Unit, stormed the district and re-arrested Okello Olwa, and whisked him to Kampala.

Samuel Arinatwe, an investigating officer in the case said the suspect hid key documents in relation to fraudulent land transactions but they are still tracing.

“We managed to recover one among the many documents we are still demanding,” he added.


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