Changing fortunes of Bundibugyo District

Bundibugyo has in the past 15 years been host to a number of catastrophes, including ADF insurgency, Ebola pandemic of 2007 and cases of cholera outbreaks. However, the district has in the last 10 years witnessed tale growth supported by an improved road network and extension of power lines. Daily Monitor’s Felix Basiime & Ruth Katusabe explored the projects that have changed Bundibugyo’s fortunes.

Tuesday June 17 2014

A section of the recently completed Frot Portal - Bundibugyo road. The 79-kilometre

A section of the recently completed Frot Portal - Bundibugyo road. The 79-kilometre road is likely to improve trade and creating new trade opportunities especially in DR Congo. Photo by Felix Basiime 

By Felix Basiime & Ruth Katusabe

Five years ago, one would need more than three hours to drive through the bumpy and narrow 79-kilometre road from Fort Portal to connect to Bundibugyo Town.
However, a newly completed road was recently handed over to the government and it builds new hope in terms of improved livelihood for the people of Bundibugyo.
The road cuts through Semuliki Valley after Karugutu, taking one just half an hour to reach Bundibugyo Town.

Bundibugyo borders DR Congo to the west and shares borders with Ntoroko District to the north and Kabarole District to the East and Southeast.

The district also shares geographic boundaries, including Semliki River to the west, Rwenzori Mountains to the east and Lake Albert to the North.

It is relatively isolated from the rest of Uganda, as it is the only district that lies west of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Though it is still a part of the Nile Basin, it is ecologically and culturally part of Central Africa.

Its people and customs are more similar to those of eastern DR Congo than the rest of Uganda, despite being politically in East Africa.
Recently, President Museveni witnessed the installation of a cultural leader for the people of Bundibugyo.

The improvement in the road network has boosted the district’s cocoa industry, which is the biggest cash crop in the area.
Cocoa farmers in the district currently receive more than Shs90b annually compared to Shs4b received in 2005, according to the district planner, Mr Charles Mwesige.

Improved road network
This, according to analysts, has been a result of an improved road network that has helped farmers to access new markets, especially for farmers in rural areas.

“Farmers can now sell cocoa to the highest bidder. A kilogramme of dry cocoa now costs Shs6,000 compared to Shs2,000 in 2007,” Mr Jolly Tibemanya, the district chairman, says.

The Fort Portal-Bundibugyo–Lamia road network which was completed in 2013, has eased communication to the rest of the country, with fairs substantially reducing and transportation of commodities made more affordable.

“A bag of cement used to cost Shs31,000 in 2009 but it currently costs Shs27,500,” says the Rev Geoffrey Kyomuhendo, a resident.

Additionally the extension of power from Fort Portal about three years ago, has made to Bundibugyo Town a hub of activities including small-scale industries.

“Extension of power has improved people’s livelihood. Small-scale industries are mushrooming across the district and a substantial reduction in unemployment in the district will soon be realised,” says Mr Tibemanya.

In 2010, the government curved off a section of the northern part of Bunduibugyo District to form Ntoroko District.

Thousands of people in Bunduibugyo have been displaced with others killed as a result of the ADF insurgency that started in the late 1990s.

The ADF, although has been fought by the UPDF, continue to be a security threat to residents conducting horrific attacks in flash points of Bwindi Impenetrable Forests.

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