Community Aid International Uganda has five elements of developoment: Education, Health Care, Water and Sanitation, Environment Protection and Sustainable Enterprises.

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BATWA COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM

program 1The program aims at transferring power and resources to the local level by ensuring that citizens exercise their rights to the best as citizens. By doing so, the program builds locally driven initiatives in line with fairness and equity.

We are aware that in order to sustain action on the right to fairness, we ought to build a wider mass movement that goes as far as the grass-root level to impact the targeted groups. In addition to this, we maximize effort to partner with district and community - based partners since they are the duty bearers and rights holders. It is therefore our obligation to continuously build capacity at community levels in all the areas of our work.

The program also enables us undertake initiatives in as far as capacity building is concerned at community levels hence making it easy for the Batwa people to demand for their rights. Effort has always been made to strengthen the capacity of the vulnerable locals by ensuring that they speak for themselves and recognize their advocacy efforts.

We intend to establish cross-movement collaborations at community levels with an aim of effectively championing the cause (human rights advocacy) as well as establishing a bridge between national level advocacy and community level / grass-root advocacy hence strengthening leadership capabilities.

The program supports the community (Batwa) and their children not only to be aware of their rights but also to demand for those rights and have a say at a national level. This effort at the end of the day strengthens local and district child protection systems, ensures safety of schools and other facilities and creates safer spaces for vulnerable members of the community.

Through diverse vocational training, we help vulnerable families escape the verge of poverty cycle. The training equips youth with skills necessary for earning them a sustainable income. We also support community in as far as savings and cooperative groups are concerned, this enables the locals to engage in future investments through starting small-scale businesses.

Who are the Batwa Pygmies?

Located in south-western Uganda, the Batwa pygmies are one of the less privileged groups of people in the country, regardless of the fact that they have for long been custodians of the mighty Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga forests. Having lived and harmoniously co-existing with these forests and resident primates, the Batwa were later evicted from their ancestral home and sought refuge at the boundaries of the forests. This resulted in their limited access to life necessities like clean water and toilets. They had limited survival skills outside the forests within which they had been dwelling for a good number of years. This meant lack of food and limited or no access to formal education.

Our effort to coordinate with the Batwa has not been in vain since it has given birth to strategies aiming at ensuring that these people access education, land, clean water and other basic needs of life, something that has enabled their empowerment to a sustainable future.

One of the problems facing their communities is that men have resorted to drinking alcohol hence leaving all responsibilities in the hands of women. This results into extramarital sex hence spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. It is also evident that young girls in the community indulge in forced prostitution as a way of earning a living.

As earlier mentioned that the Batwa are less remembered, they face a lot of discrimination in terms of accessing resources like education, jobs and healthcare. This explains their high rates of poverty making it difficult for them to acquire land and develop at the same pace like their neighbors, Bakiga.

HIV/AIDS among the Batwa.

High rates of HIV/AIDS among the pygmies play a significant role in decline in agricultural production. This means a huge blow to AIDS patients since they cannot get balanced diet to support ARVs treatment thus failure to indulge in productive activities like agriculture. This affects them from the grass root and lowers their standards of living in addition to distorting community development.

CAI’s effort to combat HIV/AIDS among the Batwa pygmies.

Sensitization of masses about the importance of HIV/AIDS testing, counseling embracing the disease to those who already have it, discourage stigmatization and provision of alternative income generating ventures in addition to de-campaigning prostitution are some of the strategic weapons we are deploying to combat this disease.

Early pregnancies.

The problem of early pregnancies among the Batwa is significantly related to the fact that young girls seek refuge in prostitution in order to earn a living. It is quite absurd that most of these girls find themselves with a choice of either engaging in prostitution or losing their lives (forced prostitution).

Young girls cannot easily access food or even basic education hence making prostitution the only center of hope for their livelihood. This brings about a cycle of early pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, poverty and early marriages.

Mulore A, Nyakabungo Ward, Rubanda Town Council.

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