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Revival of community indigenous knowledge and food systems for sustainable livelihoods in the Albertine region of BunyoroFor many decades, some communities of Bunyoro Kingdom, especially the Bagungu and Banyoro in Buliisa and Hoima districts, lived sustainably using their traditional knowledge that was unique to their culture. They were governed under their community cultural governance system0s on their ancestral lands and territories that provided them considerable sources of water, medicinal plants and organic foods on which they depended for survival.

However, in the early 1900s during the colonial governance, these communities were evicted from their ancestral lands to create Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve. The evictions affected the cultural governances systems leading the communities to turn to fishing as a source of livelihood.

In time as the protected area was reduced by oil exploration and need for land, the communities were once again affected by illegal evictions leading to land conflicts. The communities customary governance systems broke down and they were unable to protect their interest and deal with conflicts. Communities lost their rights to access land to grow food, access water and their sacred natural sites. Sacred Natural Sites are community conserved areas which forests, water bodies, wetlands, mountains and many others of the like which communities consider to be of special cultural importance.

In July 2016, NAPE together with its partner the Gaia Foundation (UK), launched the project: “Strengthening Community Cultural Governance Systems to Protect and Defend Community Food, Land and Natural Heritage Rights in Hoima and Buliisa Districts”. The project is supported by European Union.

The objective of the project is to address the challenges faced by the affected communities in the two districts of Hoima and Buliisa, strengthen their capacity to revive their cultural governances systems to protect their land, food and cultural heritage and reduce the impact of conflict. To realize the objectives of the project, NAPE has organized community dialogue meetings and workshops to support communities to revive and strengthen their traditional governance systems.

The dialogues have proved to be very effective forums where communities discuss freely, remembering how things used to be before the interference and how they want the system to Community members from Kabaale, Kihagya and Buliisa in a dialogue meeting
be. The dialogues create the communities’ awareness to exercise their rights, revive their traditional food systems and practices around Sacred Natural Sites, recall the natural heritage knowledge and the need for protection of the ecosystems.

Revival of community indigenous knowledge and food systems for sustainable livelihoods in the Albertine region of Bunyoro.The dialogues have proved to be very effective forums where communities discuss freely, remembering how things used to be before the interference and how they want the system to Community members from Kabaale, Kihagya and Buliisa in a dialogue meeting be. The dialogues create the communities’ awareness to exercise their rights, revive their traditional food systems and practices around Sacred Natural Sites, recall the natural heritage knowledge and the need for protection of the ecosystems.

Through the community dialogues, custodians have been strengthened and have gained confidence to perform their cultural duties. The indigenous seeds and foods which include crops, birds and animals that are known by the land are also being revived.

Women play a vital role in the protection of indigenous seeds. They have the knowledge of the ecological flow of when to plan and harvest, what to plant and the types of soils for particular crops. They also do seed selection during the harvest time to ensure they had sufficient and good seeds for planting in the next season.

Through the community dialogues, custodians have been strengthened and have gained confidence to perform their cultural duties. The indigenous seeds and foods which include crops, birds and animals that are known by the land are also being revived.
Women play a vital role in the protection of indigenous seeds. They have the knowledge of the ecological flow of when to plan and harvest, what to plant and the types of soils for particular crops. They also do seed selection during the harvest time to ensure they had sufficient and good seeds for planting in the next season.

The group has established gardens for planting indigenous seeds which would be multiplied and shared with others in the community. The women as custodians of seeds and food know the advantages of indigenous seeds and foods over the improved seed varieties. They assert that indigenous seed are resilient to pests and harsh weather conditions and even last long in the gardens, giving the communities food security as opposed to the improved varieties which mature faster and rot when left long in the gardens.

NAPE Community Ecological Governance team

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