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Tourism gets Shs12bn

World Bank Country Manager Tony Thompson and Ola Hallgren head of development cooperation Sweden

World Bank, Sweden support forest conservation and national parks

Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | On Oct.28, the World Bank and the Swedish Government signed a partnership agreement that saw both extend US$ 3.3 million (Shs12.3 billion) to support conservation of nature-based tourism resources in Uganda.

The grant which will be disbursed over two years will among other benefits target activities that are aimed at improving monitoring and securing forest and protected area resources and community livelihoods in selected landscapes within the Albertine region of Uganda. A good portion of the funds will also go into enhancing sustainable livelihoods of people who live adjacent to central forest reserves and national parks.

The funds have been provided through the Uganda multi-donor trust fund (MDTF), a World Bank-administered Fund that mobilizes donor contributions and invests in strategic areas to promote effective implementation of Uganda’s National Development Plans and priorities to achieve the overall goals of the national Vision 2040.

The Fund finances activities delivered through five complementary and interlinked windows to improve development outcomes. These include; promoting green growth, economic governance, strengthening community resilience, enhancing private sector development, and job creation and development effectiveness.

The National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will lead the implementation of project activities on behalf of the government.

“We believe that this project shall contribute to increased capacity of NFA and UWA and will also lay a foundation for future collaboration and support from other development partners,” said Ola Hällgren, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden.

 “We remain committed to supporting Uganda to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions to combat climate change while attaining economic growth that does not adversely affect the environment.”

The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) which will finance activities under Window Five of the MDTF aimed at “promoting green growth” supports the government’s green growth agenda for improving sustainable management of forests and wildlife protected areas to increase benefits from forests, protected areas and wildlife.

The Albertine landscape sustains a large and rapidly growing population of biodiversity of globally important significance and which protect and deliver important ecosystems services.

This landscape is also central to Uganda’s tourism industry, which makes a major contribution to Uganda’s economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings, jobs, and revenue. Uganda’s tourism industry, which before COVID-19 intervened, was the country’s leading foreign exchange earner is largely nature-based.

It is estimated that Uganda’s natural capital contributed almost 40% to overall nation’s wealth in 2014, but forests and wetlands are being lost and degraded rapidly while tourism has been amongst the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

For example, in 1994, wetland coverage on the surface area of Uganda was 15.6% according to the Uganda Wetlands Atlas prepared by the Ministry of Water and Environment. However, over the last two decades, these have reduced so much. By 2008, wetland coverage had fallen to 10.9% and currently, coverage stands at 8.9% and it is projected to further shrink to 1.6% by 2040.

Uganda’s forest cover has also been depleted to 8% down from 24% in 1990. Conservationists have attributed the losses to high population growth, expansion of land for agriculture, industries and urbanization as well as climate change.

Tom Okello Obong, the executive director of the National Forestry Authority told The Independent on Oct. 30 that the forestry agency will use its undisclosed portion of the funds to strengthen its forest monitoring activities in five central forest reserves in the Albertine region of western Uganda.

These, he said, include; Budongo, Bugoma, Kasyoha-Kitoma, Wambabya and Kalizu central forest reserves. The other portion of the funds will go into forest restoration activities and the NFA is targeting restoring degraded sections of Bugoma and Kashoha central forest reserves.

Okello told The Independent that the NFA also intends to start income generating projects for people who live adjacent to these forests. This, he said, will enhance the NFA-community collaboration that is needed in protecting Uganda’s dwindling natural forest stock.

 Tony Thompson, the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda noted that the managing of resources sustainably goes beyond environmental and climate benefits.

“It creates jobs, providing vital livelihoods and opportunities out of poverty for Ugandans,” he said, “That is very important to help communities build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The World Bank-Swedish partnership complements the IDA-financed US$ 148.2 million (Shs 555bn) Investing in Forests and Protected Areas for Climate-Smart Development Project which was recently approved by the World Bank and is currently awaiting Cabinet and Parliament of Uganda approval.

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