Using culture as a community tourism tool to conserve nature
About the Implementing organization
Name: Entanda eco-cultural tourism initiative
Year of establishment: 2013
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Community enterprise or business
Entanda ECo-culture Tourism Initiative is a community venture that has developed nature conservation of forests and wetlands in community through involving community members who originally destroyed the forests and wetlands as well as destroyed the wildlife found therein to showcase cultural traditional practices as tourist demonstrations and earn income as an alternative to resources originally obtained from the forests and wetlands.
The practice is innovative because community continued to use their old cultural practice of hunting with the only destruction of wildlife (flora and fauna) eliminated. This slight change in the traditional practice created a new alternative and better income source, tourism that convinced the community to make a "U-turn" to the vice and indulge in conservation. The ex-hunting community is very excited to continue practicing the demonstrational hunting as a cultural skill that keeps their bodies fit while earning money to buy meat and meet other needs to improve livelihoods. At the same time, the venture gives the community that was previously closed an opportunity to get exposure through interaction with people from outside their area which enhances flow in of new developmental ideas.
Forests / Wetlands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Renewable energy / Climate action
Notably, the Entanda initiative has resulted in wildlife protection; both animals and plants through the creation of awareness to change the hunting and vegetation destruction practices. Animal killings have reduced tremendously and vegetation is regenerating. The ex-hunting community jealously protects these resources to ensure continued flow in of tourists that bring income to the community and support development projects.
Examples of environmental impact are; increase in animal numbers and species, reduced tree, and papyrus cutting, increased tree planting at Homestead level (indigenous, exotic and fruit trees), domesticating forest herbs, communities and experts are planning develop an area specific biodiversity inventory, new tourism products like bird watching are beginning to suffice, documentation of indigenous environmental knowledge has started with the elders and marking of forest and wetland boundaries by community for conservation purposes is taking root.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Entanda Eco-Cultural Tourism Initiative has created socio-economic development impacts in addition to the environmental spelled out above and some of these are:
- Enhancement of revenue at household level which has improved community livelihoods; families can fairly afford to cater for basic needs like health, education, improved nutrition, better clothing, and housing.
- The initiative has provided a market for the community agriculture and handicrafts.
- Through the community-saving scheme, families are able to attain large sums to invest in other business thus widening their income bases.
- The initiative has improved the community cohesiveness to plan and source funds together for the development of their area (through supported community development projects).
- Women and the vulnerable disabled are increasingly getting empowered as a result of training, exposure, and income obtained from the initiative.
- Children school dropout is reducing due to the primary school support from the program.
Entanda Eco-Cultural Tourism Initiative is one a few years old but already proved to benefit multitudes of people in the community at then same time conserving the environment.
Considering Entanda in the category of community-based tourism, the action has been expanded to a national scale in Uganda through the Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA)— an organization that brings together all community initiatives involved in conserving resources through tourism. UCOTA together with the communities identify tourism opportunities, develop them into viable tourism products and streamline sustainable resources management in the initiatives' systems. The community initiatives are facilitated to learn from each others' successes which encourage continued improvement and birth of new initiatives. UCOTA further undertakes capacity building, marketing of products, advocacy and resources (expertise and funds) mobilization.
Despite the fact that Entanda is a relatively new community ECO-tourism program, it has been identified as one of the most successful all-inclusive eco-tourism model in Uganda and the East African region. It has been documented and used as a case study in the design stage of the on-going United Nations Development Program (UNDP) All- inclusive tourism project. Entanda has also been documented by the East African Tourism Platform (EATP, the forum that brings regional tourism private sector players together) as one of the two best Ugandan community tourism benefit sharing models that will be featured on the EATP promotion materials.
Entanda has attracted various visits by new and similar community tourism ventures to see, learn and share the successes to be used for improvement and development of such ventures. Secondary, with similar resources (forests and culture and people) found in many parts of the world, similar initiatives can easily be planned and implemented elsewhere.
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