You are here:AfriGAP » Resources » Lessons from citizen activism in Uganda: Saving Mabira Forest
Lessons from citizen activism in Uganda: Saving Mabira Forest
Source of the information:
This paper highlights the role played by citizens who launched a campaign to prevent Uganda’s celebrated natural forest, the Mabira Central Forest Reserve, from being donated to a private sugar-growing and processing company. The paper presents tactics from this campaign as a lesson for approaching broader issues of governance.
The Mabira campaign underlines the effectiveness of partnerships in civil society advocacy. By coordinating strategy and speaking with a collective voice, the civil society network was able to build momentum. It succeeded in discrediting the proposed donation of Mabira Forest, by challenging the legal, social, economic and moral grounds on which the proposal was premised. Its strategies kept government in disarray by engaging it on several fronts.
A defining success factor of the campaign was access to sensitive official information, including Cabinet documents. Without that, government may have succeeded in degazetting the forest, forcing the campaign to oppose something that had already come into force.
In the dozen years that environmental conservation has been grounded in the legal and policy framework in Uganda, there has been a heartening response by national conservation bodies, civil society groups, community-based organisations, public-interest lawyers and the general public, all of whom are becoming more responsive to the need for environmental conservation.
The authors conclude that the Mabira advocacy campaign highlights increasing levels of activism, and the determination of Ugandans to conserve the environment. It also demonstrates the galvanising force of environmental matters in streamlining governance in the country.