Our community conservation unit deliberately engages in community development efforts and UWA creates various opportunities for its host communities to benefit from tourism development both directly and indirectly. Tourists are encouraged to visit communities to experience the uniqueness of their culture as well as to contribute to business and causes at that level.
More deliberately, UWA shares 20% of its annual park revenue with the people surrounding our national parks and wildlife reserves in what we have termed “revenue sharing”. In addition, at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, UWA shares 10 US dollars (effective from 1st July 2015 – an increase from 5 US dollars previously) from each gorilla- tracking permit sold.
Revenue sharing money can be spent on household and community projects that meet two basic criteria: they must contribute to reducing human-wildlife conflict, or they must contribute to improving the livelihoods of households in frontline villages. Projects like goat rearing, piggeries, tree planting, beekeeping, and Irish potato growing have been funded at the household level. The construction of schools, health centres, feeder roads, and water tanks have been funded at the community level, as have projects to help reduce damage to crops by wild animals such as planting Mauritius thorn hedges.
The amount of money varies depending on the number of tourists who visit the Park and track the gorillas. The money from revenue sharing is sent by UWA to the districts that keep 5% to cover administration costs and pass the remaining 95% on to the sub-counties for the agreed projects.
Only villages that share a boundary with the Park are included in the program. This is because they bear more of the costs of conservation, such as crop damage than other villages that are further away from the Park.