The Batwa: From Mugozi to Kiganda for being part of the solution

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Considered as destructive of the Bururi nature reserve (South of Burundi), the Batwa community which still lives all around this forest has now become a cornerstone in its conservation.

The problems were manifold. With the support of the OBPE (Office Burundaise pour la Protection de l’Environnement) in a World Bank program, a solution emerged.

About 20 indigenous peoples’ families bought a piece of land on which they built a village. They are under the accompaniment of Léonidas Nzigiyimpa.

Indeed, Léonidas Nzigiyimpa is the current Legal representative of the 3 C (Conservation and Community of Change) . This environmentalist favors the involvement of communities to succeed in the conservation challenge. A testimony that inspires.

The Agriculture Center

Centragri, that’s how an old man is called “ Agriculture Center “. It is located on the National Road Number 16 (Bururi-Rumonge), just outside the capital of Bururi province.

This “ Agriculture Center Is at the bottom of the road. Being there, we can see on one side the Kabuye stadium, on the other side Magufa, a mountain range on which is the Bururi nature reserve.

One by one, the Batwa (indigenous Fulani) settled there. “ We came from both sides of the country, and we found ourselves in twenty eight households », Explains Christian, a member of the Batwa community.

First of all, the plots did not belong to them. There are no income generating activities. To have something to eat, “these people launched themselves into the Bururi nature reserve. They chopped wood there and extracted stones and gravel.

Thus, a conflict was permanent between them and eco guards ”, explains Léonidas Nzigiyimpa, chief curator of this nature reserve located in the south of the country.

This conflict situation will lead to reflection to be able to resolve this problem which weighed on the flora and fauna of this forest. To resolve the conflict, the local administration had offered land in karimbi (same municipality of Bururi).

It turns out that the proposed terrain is rocky. As this offer did not suit the Batwa, the latter refused the offer.

Destroyers turned conservatives

The World Bank program has made it possible to engage these Batwa communities in maintenance activities of this Bururi forest. These include the plotting of trails for tourists and visitors.
The remuneration was four thousand Burundian francs per day. We had agreed that each will receive two thousand five hundred, to invest the rest: one thousand five hundred Burundian francs.

After twelve months, they found themselves with nineteen million Burundian francs in their joint account opened at the Bank.

Resolved issues

On the one hand, these Batwa threatened the Bururi nature reserve. On the other hand, they should also cede the plots of the Center d’Agriculture claimed by the owners to build houses.

Added to this is the failure of local administration. Here is a rather complex situation which was solved under the aegis of Nzigiyimpa.

Since February 2018, the twenty eight indigenous families have occupied their own land on Mount Honga. They live in their own houses covered in sheets.

This is already a considerable improvement in their living conditions. This improvement results from the income from the conservation works of the Bururi reserve.

In addition, they have already provided drinking water supply, which contributes to local development. The Bururi nature reserve is currently secure, and families stable.

Still long way

“This hill is threatened by wind and erosion. We planted bamboo there to protect their homes, ”explains Léonidas Nzigiyimpa, legal representative of the association.

There is also the problem of educating children in the Batwa community. It turns out that the children of this community are dropping out of schools.

Indeed, for four school years, the number of children supervised by the 3C association has increased from seventy to four children. Which is deplorable according to Mr. Nzigiyimpa.
For his part, this specialist in conservation calls for education officials, local administrative authorities. It will be necessary to conduct a strong sensitization so that these children continue their studies.

According to him, “no development is possible in a family, in a municipality, in a province or in a country if people have not attended school”.

Nzigiyimpa promises that the association will accompany until the end, a girl member of the said community who is currently studying in post-fundamental in Kiryama (same province of Bururi).
For this leader, environmental protection would be even more effective if practiced by educated people.

To solve the problem of education, this May 29, we began to multiply the Mesopsis Emini commonly called indunga, umuremvya or umuhumure (national language).

This approach used by 3C may inspire environmental protection activists. It is an approach that has proven its effectiveness.
Communities are “part of the solution”. If they are not involved, all efforts will be to no avail.


Through Ndayisenga Pascal



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