Organization: Buhoma Conservation Group
Location: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Research: Buhoma Conservation Group and Cultural Center Project
Species/Topic: Humans (through education)
This project will reduce the burden on wildlife through the construction of a Cultural Center adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Center would provide education to local people through traditional practices such as dancing, story-telling and blacksmith activities. Additionally, the Center would provide employment for the community through ecotourism.
Project Update: November 2003
Much progress has been made to date on the construction of the Buhoma Cultural Centre. Three bandas (huts) have been constructed, including a reception area, iron smelting demonstration area with a furnace and another area for community meetings. A traditional hut has also been built. This hut is intended to contain all of the local old tools used a long time ago. Additionally, we have finished the room, which will serve as a traditional handi-craft shop for the Centre. A local granary has been built to demonstrate how our grandfathers used to store food staff for both famine and preservation. Pit latrines have been built near the bandas for both local and visitor use. This will help to improve health and hygiene for the community. Throughout the project, local labour has been used as well as local materials. After it is complete, community members will continue to be employed at the Centre.
Four local guides have undergone training in various skills, including interpretation presentation and the fauna of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, to be able to guide visitors around the Centre. An ongoing goal is to preserve the local culture by reviving and implementing traditional practices and passing down stories from the elders of the area. Guides are doing local research to obtain skills, stories and cultural practices and advice from the elders in the area.
In the coming months the project will focus on identifying additional alternative methods regarding the local use of resources and skills to earn a living without a negative impact on the environment. We will also begin to generate income by selling iron tools and other activities to tourists. We will encourage tourists to purchase items from the local communities. After successful completion of the black smithing and culture center, we expect the younger generation and tourists alike to have a healthy appreciation and respect of the local culture and heritage. Sustainable income will be generated in the local community, while lessening negative impacts to the environment.