‘We Dig at Night’ – Bujogoro Locals Clash with Kagombe Forest Reserve Security

Sunday, July 9, 2023

KAGADI – Bujogoro Parish, a small community consisting of eight villages located near a forest reserve, is currently grappling with a multitude of challenges. The area’s economy primarily relies on farming, with maize and beans being the main crops cultivated. However, due to a lack of sufficient land for agriculture, many locals have resorted to encroaching upon the neighboring Kagombe Forest Reserve leading to conflicts with forest guards and adverse consequences for the community.

The constant struggle between the forest guards and the encroaching villagers has created a tense working environment in Bujogoro Parish. The guards diligently carry out their duty of arresting and stopping individuals from digging within the forest reserve, as they seek to protect the natural habitat. However, the local people, driven by the necessity to support their livelihoods, have resorted to clandestine digging during the night, bypassing the efforts of the guards.

This encroachment on the forest reserve has had far-reaching effects on the local community. Perhaps most concerning is the significant increase in school dropouts among the youth. As children are often involved in nighttime digging activities, their education has taken a backseat, resulting in poor academic performance. The pressure to contribute to their families’ income has forced them to prioritize manual labor over their studies, jeopardizing their future prospects.

Expressing their concerns, members of the community argue that the forest reserve is actually public land meant for their settlement. However, National Forestry Authority claims ownership over the land where the reserve is located, intensifying the worries of the locals. The uncertainty surrounding the legal status of the forest reserve has only deepened the conflict and added to the community’s distress.

One resident, Nirere Samuel, spoke out about the dire consequences of this ongoing situation, highlighting the increasing levels of hunger and stress experienced by the community. “Our livelihoods depend on farming, but the limited land available has forced us to encroach upon the forest reserve. We are caught between a desperate need to provide for our families and the fear of being arrested by the forest guards. It has taken a toll on our mental and physical well-being,” Samuel told The Black Examiner.

As Bujogoro Parish continues to grapple with these challenges, it is imperative that immediate action is taken to alleviate the economic, social, and environmental strain faced by its residents. Only through concerted efforts and sustainable solutions can the community move towards a brighter and more prosperous future.

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