Buliisa district members of parliament hail NAPE for supporting women to promote indigenous seeds

On March 8th every year, Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s day. This year’s theme was, ‘Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls: Challenges and Opportunities’. The National celebrations were held in Mityana district but to avoid parallel celebrations, districts celebrated theirs on different schedules.

Buliisa district celebrated the women’s Day on 16th March at Kihungya primary school where the women under their group, Tulime Hamwe Mbibo Zikadde Buliisa Women’s group in partnership with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) carried out exhibition of the indigenous seed varieties they are promoting and traditional methods of seed storage.

During the celebrations, the women demonstrated how, traditionally, the seeds were wrapped in dry grass and hanged on a pole to protect them from pests and diseases. They also displayed the indigenous seed varieties such as sorghum, beans, cassava, pumpkins, greens and their importance. They demonstrated how they are promoting for better nutrition and how they ensure food security even in the times of calamities by for example drying sweet potatoes.

“Women are mainly at the Centre of seed conservation efforts to keep their families endowed with food throughout the year. That’s why for example we have these dried sweet potatoes such that in case of drought, the families remain with food,” Kagole Margret, the member of the group explained to the guests and MPs while visiting their stalls.

While addressing the participants, members of parliament from Buliisa hailed NAPE for supporting women in promoting indigenous seeds and pledged to continue supporting NAPE activities in the area.

“You people, you should keep seeds for the next season. Don’t keep waiting for anything from government. I therefore want to thank NAPE for promoting indigenous seeds, indigenous medicine etc..,” said Steven Birahwa Mukitale, the Buliisa County MP.

The Buliisa Woman MP, Norah Bigirwa appreciated the contribution of civil society organizations, especially NAPE, in empowering women which she said will contribute to her dream of leaving Buliisa women in a better position to benefit from the oil sector.

“In Buliisa, we want to appreciate local content including local seeds and we say NO to GMOs! That’s why I appreciate the efforts of NAPE in coming up with this initiative of promoting indigenous seeds. I pledge my commitment to support these women,” she said.

NAPE with support from Gaia Foundation and the European Union is implementing Community Ecological Governance project in Hoima and Buliisa district of western Uganda to support community efforts to protect the sacred natural sites and territories. NAPE also supports small holder farmers, especially women, to enhance their indigenous knowledge and seed varieties, to be food secure and safeguard the diversity for future generation.

Denis Tabaro Natukunda, the Senior Programs Officer at NAPE who also heads the project says the traditional seed varieties are intertwined in cultural heritage because they are used by the custodians when performing rituals in their respective sacred natural sites.

NAPE uses community dialogue approach which involves the identification and involvement of elders who have knowledge to sustainable solutions to the current conflicts on land, food and ecosystems.
During these dialogues, the elders (custodians) of knowledge meet with the young generations and small holder farmers to synergize on the weaving the basket of knowledge especially on the role of seeds in performing rituals and ceremonies in cultural sites and their attachment to the protection of ecosystems.

Story compiled by Precious Naturinda


Rwamutonga compensation court case hangs in balance as evicted families struggle to raise 37 million court fees

A court case by over 250 families who were evicted from their land in Rwamutonga village in Bugambe sub county Hoima district in western Uganda still hangs in balance following their incapability to pay 37 million Uganda shillings(about USD 10,000) in court as filing fees.

Last year, the affected families filed a case against the landlords, Tibagwa Joshua and others, seeking orders of cancellation of land title on grounds of fraud and 31.8 billion Ugandan shillings as compensation of their crops, animals, houses and household items which were damaged during the eviction in 2014.

Nelson Atich, one of the representatives of the affected families in court, says court assessed the filing fees at 37 million due to the huge compensation claim.

Atich says the affected families are too poor to raise 37 million shillings and are looking for assistance from well-wishers, adding that with the help of Justice Centers Uganda, they only paid 100,000 shillings.

Jonathan Tiyo, a lawyer from Justice Centers says under the law, failure to pay filing fees renders the suit incompetent; and they have applied to court to exercise its discretion and ignore the filing fees and regard the evictees in the suit as paupers.

Pauper suits are provided for under the law. Order 33 of the Civil Procedure Rules, provides that a person without the means can apply to court to waive the fees and permit him or her to sue as a pauper. However, before court exercises its discretion to waive the fees, it has to first make inquiry into pauperism.

In case court fails to permit them to prosecute as paupers, the evictees will have to either amend the case and seek only cancellation of land titles and abandon the claim for compensation, withdraw the fees or appeal to well-wishers to pay the filing fees.
The families were evicted in 2014 on orders of two landlords, Tibagwa Joshua and Bansigaraho Robert, to pave way for an oil waste treatment plant. They were consequently forced in the internally displaced peoples’ camps.

With support from NGOs like National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), they were able to return to their land following the ruling by Justice Simon Byabakama in 2015 that the eviction was unlawful.

Story compiled by Precious Naturinda