After several trails with my clients through Echuya Bamboo forest in South Western Uganda,bird watching, I realized that a lot of birds were shifting their habitants and others are getting extinct due to their natural habitat being destroyed. Many crafts men and women are cutting down the foresting for materials causing a great danger to:
Increased soil erosion and landslides.
Realising the above problems, I contacted one lady who seemed to be a an informal group leader and I proposed a small community based organisation to help manage planned use of the Bamboo, Ms. Happy, the leader accepted and they formed Kisoro bamboo Cluster handcraft project.
Kisoro Bamboo Cluster handcraft Project
On the beautiful foothills of South-western Uganda and on the edge of the Echuya Forest and Mgahinga national Park, lies a group of Bamboo handcrafts Artisans.
In–spite of having the natural wealth in tourism, Kisoro District is still a home to poor communities whose inhabitants rely on substance farming and have few sources of sustainable income. Bamboo is a natural resource in Kisoro were products of handcraft making is rooted in the cultural heritage of the people and dates back in history to their great grand parents from the skills were inherited.
Kisoro bamboo handcrafts Cluster (KBHC) covers three bamboo processing groups located in the areas of Nyarusiza, Muramba which are adjacent to Mgahinga National park andKanaba which is adjacent to Echuya Bamboo forest reserve, which are both good areas for tourism and conservation/Education research.
However, there is a big problem of deforestation that is affecting Bird’s habitat and Increasing soil erosion and landslides. These Artisans need to be trained on how to harvest Bamboo and also sensitize them on replanting the harvested areas and at the same time help them market their produce.
The Main mission was to sensitize women Artisans to have planned harvesting and also to encourage replanting of the Harvested areas. To also work with the Bamboo groups is to develop a collaborative work practices that will allow individual Artisans to develop skills and share knowledge to become more competition thus improving their home incomes. This will reduce pressure on land for Agriculture and protect Wildlife habitats as they would be encroachers are occupied with other protective activities.
I tried to lay down a Strategic Plan to fulfill the above mission.
Bamboo Nursery development.
We helped the Artisans to develop a nursery bed for redeveloping more bamboo plantlets for replacing the harvested areas and expansion. This was to sustain the material demand of the Artisans.
Proper harvesting/Drying methods
This included helping the Bamboo group to learn proper harvesting methods and proper handling of the Bamboo material in line with Training them good harvesting and drying methods.
Training of Artisans.
Here I trained the Artisans with modern skills with the help of a Volunteer friend and knowledge produce marketable handcrafts for the local and tourism market. I write this story today am sitting on a Bamboo chair and Table, to be more precise all furniture in my office is made from Bamboo.
All this was handed over to Ms. Happy to handle the project successfully, since I was not a member or even on the Management team. My duty was to organized the Artisans, have them trained and let them live their life.
I believed that any development strategy would have to include both the local population living around Echuya area as well as the national and even international communities for it to be sustainable. This attracted UNDP with a one year grant package for training the Artisans and replanting the harvested areas.
The unfortunate story about this project is that when UNDP came in to help the Artisans, selfish people came in to join Ms. Happy to manage the project and they ended up mismanaging the funds. Today they group has disbanded and offices closed. The questions that are being asked today are; Are we Africans poor managers? Do we follow written plans of Projects? Do we have self respect and integrity? Can we set examples for our children? Is it possible to drop the technical know mentality and go for merit?
Dear bloggers this is food of thought for Africa my Home.
About the Author
Wetala Julius is a holder of a degree in Business Administration, and is currently working as a Business manager of Mountain Gorilla Organic Coffee Estates a USAID funded project and he also owners a tour travel agency called Mountain Gorilla Coffee Tours with a small community based organization that helps vulnerable children get education called Save the vulnerable Children Project.