Napak, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Tourism in Uganda is embarking on a significant project to establish an open-air museum in Napak district, aimed at exhibiting fossils and attracting more tourists to the Karamoja sub-region. The proposed open-air museum, located in Iriiri Sub County, will serve as a one-stop center where fossils will be exhibited, allowing visitors to witness these remarkable findings before continuing their journeys to explore the rest of Karamoja.
The decision to develop this museum comes after the discovery of several dental remains of lower Miocene rodents and a femur bone fossil of a giant animal identified as an anthracothere, believed to have existed around 20 million years ago. The project is estimated to cost approximately 5 billion Shillings, and the procurement process is already underway.
Jacqueline Nyiracyiza Besigye, the acting Assistant Commissioner of Museums and Monuments, explained that the museum will encompass paleontology, archaeology, and other related fields. The focus is on encouraging local involvement in preserving fossils, generating job opportunities, and motivating young people to pursue tourism-related courses.
Dennis Okori, the Napak Resident District Commissioner, expressed the district’s commitment to providing land for the museum, as it is seen as a way to boost economic empowerment. Okori emphasized the importance of preserving fossil sites to attract tourists, create job opportunities for the local community, and support scientific studies.
Joseph Yeko, the Napak District Tourism Officer, highlighted the positive impact the museum will have on job creation, especially for the youth, and it will also promote cultural pride and attract resources for tourist attractions. The project is expected to reduce cases of cattle raids by engaging youth as local guides.
Sarah Musalizi, the Principal Conservator of Museums and Monuments, explained that these findings indicate the presence of flowing rivers and woodlands in the area in the past. The initiative to establish the open-air museum is not only expected to enhance scientific knowledge but also to elevate Napak district’s status as one of the first 100 geological sites in the world, as recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2022.