Indigenous Peoples in Uganda include former hunter-gatherer communities such as the Benet and the Batwa. They also include minority groups such as the Ik, the Karamojong and Basongora pastoralists, who are not recognized specifically as Indigenous Peoples by the government.
The Indigenous Peoples of Uganda include the Benet, the Batwa, the Ik, the Karamojong and the Basongora, although the Ugandan Government does not specifically recognize them as Indigenous Peoples.
Uganda has not adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169, which guarantees the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples in independent States. Therefore, its indigenous population continues to live with impoverishment, social and political exploitation and marginalization.
The 1995 Constitution does not offer express protection for Indigenous Peoples, but Article 32 imposes a mandatory duty on the state to take affirmative measures in favour of historically disadvantaged and discriminated groups.
This provision, which was initially designed and conceived to address the historical disadvantages of children, persons with disabilities and women, is the basic legal source of affirmative action in favour of Indigenous Peoples in Uganda.
The Land Law of 1998 and the National Environmental Statute of 1995 protect customary interests in land and traditional uses of forests. However, these laws also authorize the government to exclude human activities in any forest area by declaring it a protected forest, thus nullifying the customary rights to the land of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Peoples in Uganda
The Indigenous Peoples of Uganda include ancient communities of hunters and gatherers, such as Benet and Batwa, also known as Twa. They also include minority groups like the Ik, the Karamojong and the Basongora.
The Benets, who number just over 8,500, live in the northeastern part of Uganda. The Batwa, who number about 6,700, live mainly in the southwest region. They were dispossessed of their ancestral land when the Bwindi and Mgahinga forests were declared national parks in 1991.
The Ik number is approximately 13,939 and lives on the edge of the Karamoja / Turkana region along the border between Uganda and Kenya. The karamojong live in the northeast and total about 988,429. The Basongoras, who number 15,897, are a livestock community that lives in the lowlands adjacent to Rwenzori Mountain in western Uganda.
Main challenges for the Indigenous Peoples of Uganda
All these communities have a common experience of state-induced landlessness and historical injustices caused by the creation of conservation areas in Uganda. They have experienced various human rights violations, including continued forced evictions and/or exclusions from ancestral lands without community consultation, consent or adequate (or any) compensation.
Other violations include violence and destruction of homes and property, including livestock; denial of their means of subsistence and of their cultural and religious life through their exclusion from ancestral lands and natural resources. All these violations have resulted in their continued impoverishment, social and political exploitation and marginalization.
The safety of the Ik peoples is at risk in large part due to their different positions between two communities. Iks are often caught in the crossfire between the two communities, making them very vulnerable. In addition, their land tenure remains insecure because neighbouring pastoralists and agropastoralists invade their land. In addition, 70% of the land of Ik has been lost due to conservation initiatives.
The Benet peoples have had a long-standing dispute with the authorities over their ancestral lands, which was declared a protected area in 1926 without their consent or compensation. In 2005, the Supreme Court ordered the government to return the protected lands to the community of Benet. However, the failure has not yet been implemented.
Positive trends for the Ik, Benet, Basongora and Batwa peoples
The Ik have been largely excluded from the decision-making processes at both the local and central levels, but in 2015, the government created the Ik constituency and, in February 2016, Hillary Lokwang was elected as the first member of Parliament Ik.
For once, the Ik can hear their voices directly and not through their Dodoth neighbours. In fact, his current member of parliament is his first and only surviving university graduate, since the other died. Hope is placed in the new and young member of Parliament in terms of lobbying for the development of Ik people.
The United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) has been implementing the project entitled "Giving Hope to Batwa Women and Girls" where two Batwa representatives of 43 Batwa groups or communities were selected and trained as Women Defenders of Rights.
By Shua Wilmot
The Benet people in Uganda continue to suffer from gross human rights violations at the hands of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. IWGIA is deeply concerned about the situation, and has continued to monitor it. These on-going violations are also documented in IWGIA’s yearbook “The Indigenous World 2021” – read more:
Indigenous Peoples in Uganda include former hunter-gatherer communities, such as the Benet and the Batwa. They also include minority groups such as the Ik and the Karamojong and Basongora pastoralists who are not recognised specifically as Indigenous Peoples by the government.
Indigenous Peoples in Uganda include former hunter-gatherer communities such as the Benet and the Batwa. They also include minority groups such as the Ik and the Karamojong and Basongora pastoralists, who are not recognized specifically as Indigenous Peoples by the government.
Indigenous Peoples in Uganda include former hunter-gatherer communities, such as the Benet and the Batwa. They also include minority groups such as the Ik and the Karamojong and Basongora pastoralists who are not recognized specifically as Indigenous Peoples by the government.
The Benet, who number slightly over 8,500, live in the north-eastern part of Uganda. The 6,700 or so Batwa live primarily in the south-western region and were dispossessed of their ancestral land when Bwindi and Mgahinga forests were gazetted as national parks in 1991. The Ik number some 13,939 and live on the edge of the Karamoja/Turkana region along the Uganda/Kenya border. The Karamojong people – whose economy is traditionally based on livestock - live in the north-east of the country (mainly drylands) and had an estimated population of 1,094,100 according to a mid-2018 estimate by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The Basongora number 15,897 and are a cattle-herding community living in the lowlands adjacent to Mt. Rwenzori in Western Uganda.
IWGIA supports this statement made by pastoralist communities in Uganda against the government's plan to 'abolish nomadic pastoralism and embrace agriculture and paddocks'