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The Community Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation (CIBIC) is an organization that addresses poaching and encroachments in Bwindi National Park in Uganda. To date, the initiative has supported over 10,000 people in agri-business enterprises and community tourism.
Life on Land
The Community Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation organization currently serves over 1,000 people in southwestern Uganda. These communities are characterized by malnutrition, poverty, hunger and low levels of education. Many people in this area are subsistence farmers and live below $1 a day. Additionally, CIBIC serves the Batwa pygmies who were evicted without compensation from Bwindi forest to make way for a national park. It also serves widowed and single mothers, some of whom are living with HIV/AIDS.
CIBIC’s main aim is to improve the livelihoods of marginalized rural women and Batwa Pygmies through activities that contribute to biodiversity conservation, nutrition, food security, income and social economic development within communities surrounding Bwindi National Park.
The Community Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation was formed in order to contribute to nature conservation through mobilization and support of reformed poachers, youth, women and Batwa pygmies. In particular, CIBIC helps to identify alternative livelihoods to ensure their self-sufficiency.
The organization has trained and supported over 70 reformed poachers, Batwa Pygmies, women and the youth in alternative sustainable agricultural initiatives. The major social enterprise is mushroom cultivation, which is helping to transform the lives of landless women and youth communities neighboring the national park.
Another activity developed by the project is beekeeping. CIBIC currently manages over 100 bee hives in the Batwa communities. With an estimated population of 10,000 bees in each hive, totaling a number of almost 1,000,000 bees. The initiative is boosting the pollination of trillions of trees and plants, enhancing biodiversity growth and helping to combat climate change and hunger among the communities. The project adopts green approaches in all of its farming activities, such as crop and animal integration.
The initiative helps to protect Bwindi National Park, which is home to almost 400 species and 480 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s total population.
In addition, CIBIC successfully convinced 630 Batwa, youth and women poacher beneficiaries to exchange their traditional activities for sustainable farming.
In 2014, the project won the Africa SEED AWARD for its sustainable mushroom farming enterprise. CIBIC was recognized for its innovative, locally-driven activity, having trained over 100 women in mushroom farming.
In addition, CIBIC introduced a pro-poor tourism activity in Bwindi by establishing a successful relationship between local producers, tourism lodge owners and tour agencies. The initiative focuses on supplying food for tourists from local farmers. Currently, 70% of total food served to tourists originates from local producers in the area. The profit generated is used by small farmers to pay for school fees for their children and other basic needs.
Lastly, CIBIC organizes community walking tours for tourists so they can learn about the local culture. The fees received are being used by CIBIC to purchase seeds and other farming inputs.
Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, Bees Abroad Foundation, Government of Uganda, SEED Initiative (UNEP, UNDP IUCN), Bwindi and Mghinga Conservation Trust, Uganda Wildlife Authority and private individuals
Community Initiatives for Biodiversity Conservation (CIBIC)