UCF started life in Queen Elizabeth National Park, bordering the Congo (DRC). Activity to date includes: hand excavation of 30km of trench (to stop crop raiding elephants); a network of boat stations and training of 30 marine rangers (arresting poachers and bushmeat smugglers), accommodation for ten rangers in the previously inaccessible northern Lake George (Kibale Corridor) to remove snares, dismantle poacher camps and kickstart recovery of the 400km habitat for wildlife.
UCF evolved from a research project called Elephants, Crops and People that recorded the worst crop raiding in Africa. Elephants in particular were having a disastrous impact on the community: people were malnourished, and a third of the women were widows, having lost their husbands to Malaria caught while guarding the crops every night. Crop guarding then fell to the children who therefore missed out on schooling. As a result, elephants were being killed in retaliation. UCF employed local people to excavate elephant trenches, since then there have been no reported incidences of elephants being killed, the community is healthier and more children attend school regularly.
Projects in Queen Elizabeth have proved so successful that UCF will soon be starting work on similar practical conservation projects in Murchison Falls National Park, in northern Uganda. It’s exciting to see an organization develop and have an impact.
My role is to raise UCF’s profile, fundraise, communicate with donors, help develop the local team’s skills – and fundraise some more!
A key part of the role is to share skills. Western IT skills, for example, are typically much more advanced than the average Ugandan’s. Many kids don’t touch a keyboard until they go to university (assuming the finish secondary school and many don’t). PC Skills training is rare so people tend to learn from each other. You can really increase a person’s productivity – and appreciate the possibilities of using PCs effectively – through sharing simple PC skills that the average Western office worker takes for granted.