UNESCO grants emergency funds for reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed after floods and landslides in Rwenzori Mountains
UNESCO grants emergency funds for reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by floods and landslides at Rwenzori Mountains National Park
At the beginning of May 2020, torrential rain occurred in and around Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda), a property inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The excessive rain caused heavy flooding which destroyed wildlife habitats and essential infrastructure along theNyamwamba, Nzurangi, Mulyambuli, Rwamba, Kabamba, Mubuku, Bujuku, Nyamwaghasani, Lhubiriha and Rwimi Rivers as the water cleared its way towards Lakes George and Edward. The devastating floods have also led to loss of protected area (PA) infrastructure (mainly bridges, ladders and walk-boards), and affected communities, leading to loss of lives and property in the neighborhood. Arable land and gardens, homes, equipment, shelters and other properties were swallowed by the water, forcing people to congregate in makeshift camps.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda), a UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the last glaciers of Africa and some endangered, endemic and threatened biodiversity. Some of the prominent species on site include the chimpanzee, elephant, the Rock hyrax, high altitude leopard, a number of other primates and the duiker family (among others). The site was also inscribed because of the aesthetic characteristics of the landscape and latitudinal vegetation arrangement. The fauna biodiversity is vulnerable to poaching due to the highly priced products derived from their existence.
The loss of bridges, ladders and walk-boards is a burden to the local communities whose livelihoods depend on and a hindrance to the much-needed patrols and monitoring activities that aid the protection of site biodiversity, especially in these difficult moments of COVID-19. The lack of patrols is a big threat to the survival of biodiversity and protection of tourism property within the mountain huts. Uncontrolled timber harvesting will reduce the amount of trees which may result in more landslides, devastating effects of climate change and soil erosion.
In order to support the State Party of Uganda enhancing the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Rwenzori Mountains National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Centre provided an emergency assistance by granting 75,000 USD from the World Heritage Fund for the reconstruction of management infrastructure of the park and the development of a disaster and risk management plan, following the request of the State Party. The new designs will ensure reduced vulnerability of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park to natural disasters, and will enable the site managers to access and manage the site throughout the year despite the recurrent tough weather conditions.