BULIISA WILDLIFE VICTIMS DECRY DELAYED COMPENSATION
By Innocent Atuganyira
Victims of wild animal invasion and destruction in Buliisa district have decried the delayed compensation by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The issue was brought up in front of Buliisa constituency Member of Parliament Allan Atugonza and UWA officials on Thursday during an assessment of the crops destroyed by elephants in Bugana Ngazi, Buliisa Sub County, on Wednesday night, where a herd of over 20 elephants from Murchison National Park reportedly destroyed over four acres of crops.
Among the destroyed crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, and banana plantations.
Ivan Businge, Sharif Kato, and Edwin Kahwa, among many other victims, say that as long as assessments for the destroyed crops are made by UWA, the victims have never been compensated, and UWA has continued to give them the same assessment forms to fill out.
The residents added that the destruction of their crops by the wild animals from Murchison Falls National Park makes them food insecure and impoverishes them, yet the government does not compensate them.
Simeo Kiirya, the agricultural officer in Buliisa Sub County, advised the victims to follow up on the compensation matter with the rightful procedures and government offices.
Allan Atugonza, the Buliisa County Legislator, who also expressed concern over the delays, promised to follow up on the matter for immediate action.
Atugonza also asked the government to consider providing urgent food relief to the families affected by the wild animal invasion in the district.
He said the crop destruction by wild animals is causing food insecurity in the area, noting the need for urgent food relief by the government before compensating the affected residents for their destroyed property.
Cases of crop destruction by wild animals, mainly elephants, are common in Buliisa and Ngwedo subcounties.
David Katusiime, the chairperson of LC1 Bugana Kichooke Nganzi village, said they are worried about the continuous invasion and destruction by wild animals, and he requested the government devise means of preventing these animals from crossing into the community land.
Efforts to get a comment from UWA were futile since its officials who were at the scene declined to speak to the media.
President Museveni asserted the Wildlife Act 2019 in 2019, which introduced compensation for people who suffer bodily harm, are killed by wild animals, or have property damage as a result of wild animals.
However, UWA has yet to compensate the people who suffered attacks from wild animals.