Juliet Kyokunda, the Executive Director of Uganda Biodiversity Fund, conveyed her gratitude to USAID, and commitment to growing the conservation trust in line with the development of the country, indicating that development of the country required all sectors to work cohesively for the funding gap to be narrowed.
She said yearly for conservation, Uganda needs $445m (Ush1.6 trillion) but the collaboration efforts are not upheld. “Someone plants a forest and another cuts it down to plant sugarcane because they are looking at employment and income,” Kyokunda said.
She pointed out the Tourism sector which is the leading foreign exchange earner to the economy of Uganda thrives on biodiversity conservation.
Sam Mwandha, the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) echoed that and said that revenue had declined with the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing from Ush 7bn to about Ush 200m a month. With game reserves and zoos closed, income to the tourism sector has suffered a significant drop.
Speaking on behalf of USAID in a speech read by USAID’s Robert Bagyenda, Regina McKenzie advised that Uganda continue supporting the symbiotic relationship between biodiversity conservation and economic development to realize her goal towards sustainable growth.
Representing the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture; Ambrose Agona, Director General National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) said lack of conservation had led to up to 75 percent of all plant and animal species. He added that only five animal species, and 12 plant species feed 75 percent of the world’s population.
Tom Obong Okello, the National Forest Authority (NFA) said Uganda’s population growth has placed pressure on forests as people are increasingly taking over forests for agriculture and wood fuel for cooking.
“Deforestation is caused by expansion of agriculture and because of the increasing population people want more food.” Okello said.
With a deficit of Ush 30 billion for biodiversity conservation of Uganda’s forests, it is difficult to curb the rate of deforestation and conserve biodiversity.
USAID’s Uganda Biodiversity Fund Activity is one of the various approaches of funding biodiversity conservation to be explored, which should encourage other players to strengthen partnerships in consolidating funds for biodiversity in Uganda.