The Indigenous People's of Uganda: The Batwa, Benet, and Karamojong Peoples



  • East Africa, landlocked by Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania


  • 236,040 square kilometers, slightly smaller than Oregon


  • About 31 million (.3 percent Indigenous)

Indigenous Community:

  • There are 3 major Indigenous groups in Uganda: the Batwa (6,700 people), the Benet (20,000 people), and the Karamojong (955,000 people).The Karamojong and the Benet Peoples typically live in the region of north-eastern Uganda. The Batwa Peoples primarily live in the south-western region of Uganda and were evicted from their traditional homelands when the Bwindi and Mgahinga forests were declared national parks in 1991.
  • The Batwa and Benet are hunter-gatherers, while the Karamojong are pastoralists.
  • The forest is of cultural and economic significance for the Batwa, who are Pygmy forest peoples.
  • Cattle are central to the culture of the Karamojong, who use every part of the cow in daily and ritual life.

Indigenous Rights Concerns:

  • Uganda's constitution has no express protection for Indigenous Peoples, though it does provide for affirmative action in favor of marginalized groups.
  • The Land Act of 1998 and the National Environment Statute of 1995 protect customary interests in land and traditional uses of forests. However these laws also authorize the government to exclude human activities in any forest area by declaring it a protected forest, thus nullifying the customary land rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Political participation of Indigenous Peoples remains limited and their socioeconomic rights are ignored by the state and society.
  • Eviction from homelands has limited Uganda's Indigenous Peoples' access to food, medicine, and shelter. As a result, they are plagued by starvation, sickness and exposure. Many fear that Uganda's Indigenous Peoples will be decimated in the near future.


 For More Information, see the following articles in the Cultural Survival Quarterly magazine:


Indigeneity in Uganda

Human Rights Abuses in Uganda

Child Soldiers and Uganda

Education and Youth Activity in Uganda

Refugees and Relocation in Uganda

Together, We Can Support Indigenous Communities in Nepal

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Cultural Survival is not a disaster relief organization. We work towards a world in which the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

Bikalpa Gyan Kedra, an organization in Nepal founded by our Board Member Stella Tamang offers alternative educational opportunities to Indigenous girls and is not a disaster relief organization either, but since the earthquake they have been acting as a shelter to 300 local families. They need basic items like drinking water and food.

Radio Kairan in Kubu-Kasthali is asking for help with purchasing a power generator to get his community radio station back up and running to provide an essential means of communication for villagers on relief efforts as well as to power his community. Cost for this generator would be about $2,500

We have set up a special fund to assist our Indigenous contacts in Nepal. With your help, we can provide some limited assistance to our friends in desperate need.

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