Vulnerable communities around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest receive Ready to Grow food crops to reduce hunger and combat poaching

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With the support of IUCN Save Our Species, co-funded by the European Union

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (in a CTPH Shirt) with the CTPH Team and some beneficiaries during the distribution of Ready to Grow seedlings

As 2020 winds down, we are reflecting on the ups and downs of what has been a very challenging year.

Sadly, we have seen an increase in poaching around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as community members living on the outskirts, the majority of whom were already very vulnerable, grapple with the loss of jobs and income from the crash of the tourism sector, on which many livelihoods were dependent.
In looking for ways to support community members and reduce the risks to wildlife, Conservation Through Public Health launched a ‘Ready to Grow Gardens’ program. Working closely with Uganda Wildlife Authority, Local Council Chairpersons 1, and our Village Health and Conservation Teams, we identified  the most vulnerable community members and those who were most likely to turn to poaching and hunting to meet basic needs as poverty and desperation increased as well as those who have been most affected by a lack of tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including  porters, reformed poachers, Batwa, and the Gorilla Guardians – Human and Gorilla Conflict resolution teams. Ready to Grow Gardens comprise a package of ten low maintenance food crop seedlings that need little space or inputs, can be grown in household gardens and provide food within 1 to 4 months.

We are very grateful to IUCN Save Our Species for supporting roll out of the Ready to Grow Gardens program as part of the “Emergency action to address COVID-19 related threats to mountain gorillas and other wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park” program.

IUCN Save Our Species aims to improve the long-term survival prospects of threatened species. It also focuses on supporting the species habitats and working with the communities who share this habitat. It achieves success by funding and coordinating conservation projects into multiple initiatives across the globe.

The Ready to Grow Garden program started with two parishes that have high human and gorilla conflict in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Nteko and Rubuguri.

Community members help push the Ready to Grow distribution truck on the way to Nteko Health Centre

The Ready to Grow seeds and seedlings supplied include tomatoes, onions, cabbages, kale, spinach, beans, groundnuts, maize, pumpkins and Amaranthus.

 

We thank IUCN Save Our Species and all our individual donors who have supported this initiative, enabling us to reach the first 1002 households at this critical time. The seedlings supplied to community members will provide food within 1 to 4 months when harvesting can begin. This will increase their resilience, reducing dependence on poaching and hunting to meet their basic needs.

However, there remain 5000 households who urgently need our – and your – support. This week, from December 14th up to Friday 18th December, 2020, our fundraising partner Global Giving will match all new monthly donations towards the project by 200% – donations can be made here COVID-19 related poaching surge threatens Gorillas. Please consider supporting this important cause and making a real difference this Christmas season.

Thank you so much to IUCN Save Our Species and our individual donors for your generosity in support of our work.


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