In the 1960s and early 70s, Echuya Forest was composed of 70% Bamboos. However, due to intense illegal harvesting and animal grazing the bamboo composition currently stands at merely 22%. Such devastation places the bamboos as one the critically endangered species in Echuya forest. This implies its ecological benefits such as source of wild food for indigenous people like Batwa, medicine, bean-stakes, poles, water and habitat for wild animals and birds are all immensely threatened.
''KIWOCEDU'' is a Women-led Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). our main focus is improving community livelihoods especially for rural women, as well as enhancing sustainable natural resource conservation through gender mainstreaming.
KIWOCEDU vigorously advocates for women active participation in environmental conservation because it believes rural women are more prone to environmental devastation. KIWOCEDU has been working to promote biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement around Echuya Central Forest (ECFR) since 2014.
Some of its initial programs involved economically empowering rural women through local craft training among other income generating initiatives. Later or on, men were also brought on board to enhance harmonious co-existence between men and women through the Men for women strategy.
It was gradually realized that one of the constraints for household productivity (need for firewood, bean-stakes, construction timber etc) was inextricably linked with reliance on the forest, by the peri-forest vulnerable women and children. This was more so for the Batwa women and children who had traditionally been dependent on the forest. The women of KIWOCEDU were concerned that the forest appeared to be ever contracting and retreating away from their villages. The distance travelled to harvest domestic forest products by these rural womenfolk and their children has been increasing over the years largely due to reduction in Echuya forest cover especially the bamboos.
Our work has added value to communities of batwa through Bamboo domestication
To the left is some of the fully grown bamboo in Echuya forest that communities depend on for building and craft material making