The Batwa/Pygmies are the original inhabitants the equatorial forests of the Great Lakes region. The forest was their home. It provided them a livelihood and medicines, and contained their religious/sacred sites and because of their sustainable use of resources they were able to occupy and use the forests for thousands of years. In the nineteenth century, agriculturalists and pastoralists started the process of deforestation, clearing forests for cultivation and animal grazing respectively. This was followed by large-scale forest logging and increased trophy game hunting, the over exploitation and destruction of forests and wildlife making their habitats shrink. In recement years, governments and powerful consortiums establishment game parks and evicted the Batwa from their traditional lands.
The occurrence of violent conflicts and wars have undermined their livelihoods and culture and many consider them destitutes and have no land to call home. In all countries of the Great Lakes Region I.e., Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the Batwa have suffered loss of traditional forest territories and other natural resources face personal insecurity and violence, displacement by wars and tourism and logging, political and social exclusion, poverty, ill-health, inadequate educational opportunities and negative stereotyping.
AIFE-Uganda with likeminded has a program to face these challenges face by the indigenous Batwa in a bid to break these chains and have a community of the Batwa that is respected and whose rights and dignity are respected.