Clad in heavy jackets, sweaters and shawls hanging across the shoulders, everybody seemed to be ‘folded into themselves’ and freezing from the cold. Silence filled the room in which they sat and I couldn’t help wondering if any heated discussion would come from this very cold environment, but alas! underneath the coldness was a vibrant and committed team of revenue sharing stakeholders. The stakeholders including Sub county and parish chiefs, procurement committee members, opinion leaders, CBO representatives, Community development officers, Local Council I, II&IIIs, UWA & IGCP staff gathered on 16th April 2015 at the Care meeting Venue in Rubuguri Sub County to share ideas, research findings and experience on how the revenue sharing program has performed around BMCA in the last ten years. And to also jointly identify solutions to the existing gaps as well as plan for the future. During the meeting findings from research conducted on the performance of the revenue sharing program by Namara Agripina a consultant and Robert Mujuni of Institute of Tropical Forest Conversation (ITFC) were shared with the participants. The research whose objectives were to understand the implementation process of the revenue sharing program and the gaps in the revenue sharing program was conducted among the community and different partners.
Key Findings from the Research;
- Since the inception of tourism in BINP 1993, tourist numbers have exponentially increased from 1,313 in 1993 to 18,000 in 2012
- 20% of park entry fees has continued to be given to the frontline parishes for livelihood improvement.
- In 1996 a total of 76,000,000, was disbursed to surrounding communities, rising to 500,241,012 in both 2013 and 2014.
- 1994 –1999- 19 Projects in 19 Parishes around BINP were implemented
- Prior to 1996, revenue sharing was managed by PMAC (these were local politicians accountable to park management; decision making was dominated by Uganda National Parks).
- The program however faced a number of challenges and was in 2012 replaced with new revenue sharing guidelines with particular focus on four things; improvement in the livelihoods of the community, equity in revenue sharing funds, participatory planning for revenue sharing funds and letting the community decide what they need.
- 51% of the beneficiaries are male and 49% female
- Only 24% of the community is knowledgeable about the revenue sharing guidelines.
- 79% of the community has been consulted on project identification and selection.
- 84% of the community received feedback on the project.
- Only 17% of the revenue sharing funds have been allocated to addressing human wildlife conflict. -Monitoring of the program by local leaders is still inadequate, monitoring percentage as per report; LCIIs 0%, LCIs 42.90%, LCIIIs 5.70%, district officials 5.70% and UWA and other stretcher groups stand at 57.10% and 4.30% respectively.
This presentation was followed by reactions from the participants and later group work discussions. Among others the participants raised a concern about equity in revenue sharing; appealing that the revenue sharing funds should also consider those who farm along the Protected Areas and yet live in non-frontline villages. According to the participants these individuals’ gardens are often raided by wild animals and therefore bare a cost from the Park and its wildlife. Inadequate knowledge on the new revenue sharing guidelines was also raised.
The group discussions on the other hand demanded the participants to discuss the achievements the program has registered, what has worked well – best practices, the existing gaps and what needs to be done to fill these gaps and or improve/strengthen the program. Here below are some of the responses from the groups. Achievements:
- Livelihood improvement
- Infrastructure development
- Awareness creation on the program and conservation among the community
- Increased community participation in development and decision making processes
- Good relationship between the community and UWA
- Increased domestic income What has worked well:
- Procurement of inputs
- Active community participation
- Community mobilization and sensitization
- Reduced poaching
- Formation of procurement committees
- Release of revenue sharing funds
- Community identification of projects
- Collaboration with UWA and Local government
- Conservation management committees
- Community involvement
- Monitoring and evaluation of activities
- Lack of operation costs
- Contradiction of community procurement with national guidelines
- Sustainability of the program
- Lack of provision for communication allowance and royalties
- Lack of monitoring funds
- Failure of parish level leaders to monitor the program
- Limited knowledge on the new revenue sharing guidelines
- Limited transparency; although funds collected are declared the total number of tourists is still not disclosed by UWA
- Inadequate revenue sharing funds
- Delay release of revenue sharing funds
- Lack of facilitation for procurement committees
What needs to be done:
- Allocate facilitation for procurement committees and parish level leaders
- Increase revenue sharing allocations
- Provide royalties to Sub counties adjacent to Protected areas
- Harmonize community procurement to be in line with the national guidelines
- Fund sustainable projects
- Provide for operation costs
- Support CBOs
- Involve all concerned partners in the program
- All stakeholders should strengthen monitoring of revenue sharing funds at all levels
- Timely release of revenue sharing funds
- Reduce strings attached to the revenue sharing allocations
- Equal allocation of funds to the community
- Continued sensitization of the community
- Disseminate and educate the community on the new revenue sharing guidelines
A number of outcomes were registered from this meeting, and action planning to address the raised concerns was also done.
- Research findings about the revenue sharing program were presented and discussed.
- Achievements registered and existing gaps in the revenue sharing program identified.
- Action planing to a dress existing gaps done.
- Commitment towards popularizing the new revenue sharing guidelines secured from the leaders in attendance.
- Continued support to community development and collaboration was secured from UWA, local leaders and IGCP.
Commenting on the meeting and the program as a whole, Benjamin Asiimwe a Community development Officer (CDO) Muko Sub County noted that the meeting was good because it gave the stakeholders an opportunity to jointly assess the progress of the project, explaining that the recommendations done will guide further implementation. Asiimwe added that “the revenue sharing project is a good initiative, it is being seen to improve people’s livelihoods; stakeholders need to put hands together to continuously sensitize the community about it and to monitor its performance to realize the desired community transformation”.