We shall secede…’ - narratives of marginalisation in post war participatory recovery of Acholi, northern Uganda
Set in a remote part of Acholi, on the northern side of Murchison Falls National Park, northern Uganda, this paper focuses on the efforts of the local community in Pabit Parish as they rebuild their agricultural livelihoods in the aftermath of the 20-year civil war. Their struggle to recover, however, hung in the balance as problem animals started to destroy their crops. Their recovery became even more uncertain when their efforts to dialogue with the government about the unfair wildlife policy remained unheeded. Meanwhile, the Acholi Culture and Tourism Centre project set up by Purongo Sub County Local Government to supplement the people’s agricultural livelihoods was marred in conflicts that threatened its very existence. What had started as a post war participatory development thus turned out to be an arena of conflict.Using ethnographic methods of data collection integrated within a case study, this study focuses on the tourism centre project. Premised on principles of participation, the project had been considered instrumental, not only in the protection of wildlife in Murchison Falls Park which would attract more tourists, and thus more revenue to the community from commercial tourism, but also through promoting agricultural livelihoods, the mainstay of the local economy. However, the reluctance of wildlife officials to engage communities in policy discussions, and internal weaknesses in the governance structural systems, combine to frustrate efforts in the local community to recover their livelihoods for a better standard of living.