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Your support will make a difference

Help us to create a cultural centre for Uganda’s Batwa community. It will serve as a vital source of income and cultural preservation, offering a sustainable means to cultivate plants essential for their traditional medicines and crafts. It will be a space where Batwa can pass on their traditional knowledge and preserve their heritage for youth and future generations.

The Batwa community are an indigenous people who once thrived in the highland forests in western Uganda. In the 1990s, they were unjustly evicted from their ancestral lands by government authorities in the name of wildlife conservation.

“We miss our strong medicines that we used to take while in the forest, because every time we would take the medicines we would be strong and happy.”

– Batwa community member

This displacement left the Batwa community devastated and landless. Today, Batwa live on the peripheries of their former home – the forests – which they are not allowed to enter. They live in dire conditions, many in temporary shelters on roadsides. The community is yearning to reconnect with their ancestral lands and culture, which are deeply intertwined.

Currently, Batwa culture is largely performed for tourists as a source of income, run by third parties. Led and managed by the Action for Batwa Empowerment Group (ABEG) – an organization run by Batwa themselves – this cultural centre will be a beacon of Batwa culture, allowing the community to celebrate their traditions on their own terms.

Minority Rights Group (MRG) is hosting this appeal by request from ABEG. All donations will go to ABEG so that it can set up the centre.

Batwa heritage is vital for the community’s sense of identity, mental health and wellbeing. You can stand with ABEG to celebrate and strengthen it. Donate today to let the community know they are not alone in their efforts to protect their heritage for generations to come.

MRG and ABEG are members of the Land Body Ecologies project, a transdisciplinary research group seeking to understand the mental health impacts of environmental change on indigenous and land-dependent communities. This project has been integral to the development of the cultural centre. To learn more about the mental health impacts of forced eviction for the Batwa, read the study led by ABEG, published in PLOS Global Health.

  • Top: Livera, a Bwindi artist who does basket weaving. Bwindi Hub, Uganda. Credit: Samrawit Gougsa/Minority Rights Group.
  • Middle: Sylvia Kokunda, CEO of Action for Batwa Empowerment Group, holds a fruit traditionally found in the forests from which Batwa were evicted in the 1990s. Credit: Samrawit Gougsa/Minority Rights Group.
  • Lower banner: Batwa community members performing a traditional dance in Kanungu, Uganda. Credit: Thomas Alboth.