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Conservation vs Community Development

The creation of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and community development challenges

In 1991, the Mgahinga Game Reserve was converted into Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and as a result, all of the inhabitants who lived within the reserve were forced to leave.

 

The most affected were the indigenous Batwa community who typically survived by hunting within the reserve.  While some were able to purchase land close to the park, others were left with no access to food or housing and were forced to migrate to other parts of the country or were pushed into poverty.

 

By 1994, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was attracting tourists from around the world who came to track mountain gorillas, but tourism provided no benefit to these local communities, many of whom had lost almost everything they owned.

 

As one of the most marginalized communities in Uganda, the Batwa continue to suffer from a lack of suitable housing and access to education and medical care.

 

In 2003, MCDO was founded to help use tourism as a resource to address the social and economic challenges faced by these communities and to date, we have developed several community initiatives including:

 

  • Two community campsites,

  • A kindergarten

  • A sponsorship program for disadvantaged students

  • A woman’s handicrafts group, and,

  • A micro-credit savings scheme.