backgroundimage

GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE RESETTLEMENT OF THE LANDLESS BENET PEOPLE IN SEBEI SUB REGION OF MT.ELGON

1.    The problem of landless Bennet community in Sebei Sub region stems from the gazettment of Mt. Elgon Forest Reserve in 1938 by the Colonial Government.

2.    Between 1938 and 1983, the Bennet were allowed to continue living all over the Forest Reserve, however, their population and activities increased over the period of time affecting the forest reserve.

3.    In 1983, Government marked out 6,000 hectares  from the Forest Reserve for the  Bennet Permanent Resettlement; thus banning them from roaming all-over the Reserve

4.    Government then assigned Kapchorwa District Administration to handle the land allocation to the Bennet Community evicted from the Forest Reserve. The Kapchorwa District Administration established a District Land Allocation Committee to distribute the land to the Bennet Community, however, the Committee left out most of the Benet-Ndorobo people.

5.    Instead the Committee allocated themselves, relatives and friends large chunks of the land that would otherwise have been for the Benet - Ndorobo people.  

6.    During the 1983 land allocation, the Committee exceeded the 6,000 hectares by 2,250 hectares, thus allocating 8,250 hectares.

7.    In 1993, the Mt. Elgon Forest Reserve was upgraded to Mt. Elgon National Park, this came along with stringent rules/ policies for conservation.

8.    In 2002, the 6,000 hectares was formally degazetted by an Act of Parliament, leaving out the 2,250 hectares.

10.    In 2011, Communities in Sebei subregion once again began pressuring Government for further degazetment, this time targeting the part called, ‘The London Portion’.

11.    Government after receiving petitions from the people, set up a technical Inter-Ministerial committee to assess the impact of degazetment of the, ‘London Portion’. The Committee began its work on 21st March 2011.

12.      The Committee comprised; (1) The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), (2) The National Forest Authority (NFA), (3) Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), (5) Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), (6) Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTA), (7) District Local Governments (DLGs) and (8) The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

13.    The Committee report noted that the Environmental Impact of Degazetting the London Potion would severely affect the fragile ecosystem of Mt. Elgon National Park.  The team realized the area was the main source (catchment area) of four major rivers namely; Siti, Kere, Kaplegep and Chepuyakanyet supplying water to lower Ngenge, some of the wetlands of Teso and the rivers contribute to the sustenance of Lake Kyoga.  

14.    De-gazettement of the London portion therefore risked exposing the four rivers, hence drying up in the long run and affecting hundreds of people in lower Sebei and parts of Teso.  Part of the London Portion is a soft wood plantation worth shs 45 billion at harvest time which would be affected when settlements are established in the neighborhood.

15.    The technical team concluded that the London portion is a very sensitive part of the Mt. Elgon ecosystem serving as a catchment area for four rivers and several streams as well as being the source of two gravitational water schemes; it should therefore not be degazetted for the settlement.

16.    UWA and the technical team instead marked out 318 hectares of Mt. Elgon National Parkland in Kapsekek Parish of Bukwo District for resettlement of the Bennet. Government after further verification in 2015, agreed to recognise the people living on the additional 2,250 hectares as well.

17.    Government is therefore on track in its commitment to resettle the landless people in sebei subregion

 
18.    The Office of the Prime Minister has completed resettlement of 254 households (1,960 people) on the 318 hecatres in Kapsekek Bukwo District.

19.    Government would like to assure the Bennet / Ndorobo community and other landless persons that they will all be resettled in the highlands and NOT the lowlands of Sebei subregion

20.    The 1,960 Bennet people who were recently resettled on the highlands of Kapsekek in Bukwo district will soon be given land titles and iron sheets for their permanent homes

21.    The remaining landless Bennet people and others living in camps of Kisitu, Kwoti, Rwanda/Kisangani, Cheberen, Titim and Teriet numbering 6,096 people will equally be resettled on the highlands and NOT the lowlands of Sebei subregion.

22.    Government has already released shs 9.0 billion for their resettlement. They will equally receive land titles and iron sheets for their permanent homes.

23.    The leaders of the Bennet Community and other landless persons will be consulted and engaged in the identification of suitable land within the highlands for their resettlement.

24. The Government is committed to resettle the people while at the same time ensuring sustainability of the Mt.Elgon Eco-System for current and future generations.

DR. RUHAKANA RUGUNDA
PRIME MINISTER