Our Background

The Batwa are one of the oldest surviving tribes in Africa, but their culture, identity and language are under increasing threat.

The traditional hunting ground of this nomadic community comprised of forested areas in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, in 1991, due to conservation projects to protect mountain gorillas, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda was created in the south of the country and Uganda’s 6,700-strong Batwa community were evicted from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where they had lived for centuries.

These then scattered in different groups by the outskirts of the forests to places like Mpungu, Buhoma, Kitalito, Kebiroma, Mgahinga, Kisoro among others.

According to Ugandan law, as a nomadic people who had never settled in one location, the Batwa had no claim to the land, therefore, the Ugandan government had no legal obligation to compensate them.

Within these settlements, they have bent towards adapting the culture of societies like the Bakiga which they settled in at the expense of their own.

There have been intermarriages between these groups and the Batwa and several young children born of late cannot trace their roots or the culture of their forefathers.

Over time, the government has promised to accommodate them and find them land but the process has been a slow one. These communities have failed to adapt to a new life as their number reduce and life expectancy reduces. There are 3,463 (1,685 males & 1,778 females) Batwa in the Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area according to a 2016 census by the Bwindi Mgahinga conservation trust nearly half the number it was by the time of displacement.


Change a Life Bwindi is a Ugandan CBO working to ensure a balance between the environment, wildlife conservation and sustainable development programs among the communities living in Bwindi, Rubanda District. CALB aims to uplift the wellbeing of the communities in Bwindi through creation of sustainable livelihoods opportunities.

Our Vision

Change a life Bwindi envisions people living in Bwindi exercise their rights and take ownership in sustainably managing and utilization of natural resources to improve their livelihoods.

Our Mission

CALB mission is to develop the capacity of and work with communities in Bwindi improve their livelihoods and wellbeing through the provision of alternative livelihoods, climate change adaptation and management, environment conservation, improving access to quality formal and vocational education, improved food security, promotion of Human rights, and promotion of quality Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

The Dream

The Batwa cultural centre in Mpungu is the only one in the area and with its unique constriction depict huts that these forest people used to sleep in decades ago, it remains outstanding.

Our dream is to see the centre serve its core mandate of preserving and promoting the threatened culture of these indigenous and marginalized people for as long as we can.

We hope the Centre can benefit the Batwa community hereby increasing their incomes through the sales of the products they will make, the presentations and through telling their unique story.

The intervention

Change a life Bwindi joined several other organisations to see to it that the lives of a group of about 67 Batwa living in Mpungu at the edge of the forest are improved.

Among such interventions, we have offered livelihood programs to them like beekeeping, basket weaving, tailoring from which they make products they sell to tourists.

The cultural centre has come in to help preserve the Batwa culture. At the center, there will be a display of artifacts of the Batwa, tools that they used in the forest life among other things.

At the center, the Batwa will also perform traditional dances to visiting tourists.

They will display part of their cultural practices like making fire from wood and stones, hunting skills, among others which will earn them some money from the visitors.

Still at the centre, we shall have several stalls where the Batwa will sell products made from their weaving, tailoring and beekeeping to visitors.

The Journey

The centre was an idea conceived by Change a life Bwindi to address the issue of a looming threat to the Batwa culture that is expected to disappear if nothing is done about it.

The Idea was backed by the Batwa community elders and local government authorities and with their approval, land was secured near the Batwa community on which the centre would sit.

The building started soon after a long and tiring process of sourcing for funds from well-wishers and donors and went on smoothly but not without some hitches because of funds but eventually, success prevailed.

On March 6, 2020, we successfully launched the Centre and it started operations although it is still lacking many things to make it a world-class place for tourists to enjoy themselves.

Stewart Thompson – Emeritus Professor in Biodiversity Conservation, Oxford Brookes University; Scientific advisor to the Center for Ecosystem Restoration Kenya and to Change-a–Life Bwindi, Uganda.

Change-a-Life Bwindi and Habitat Restoration

The restoration work that Change-a-Life are undertaking is in strategic locations of land which have the potential to link up with Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forest is highly biodiverse, hosting over 1000 species of flowering plant, 200 species of trees, 350 species of bird and over 300 species of butterfly. The forest is home to one of the richest mammal assemblages in Africa, most notably the endangered mountain gorilla, with important populations of forest elephant and chimpanzees also located within the forest.

The forest is located in one of the most densely populated regions of Uganda due it’s fertile volcanic soils and reliable rainfall. Consequently, the landscape displays a sharp contrast between what remains of the forest, human settlements and in particular the extensive amount of land that has been given over to commercial-scale agriculture, primarily tea production.

To support this form of agriculture, large plantations of eucalypt and pine species plantations have been planted, in order to provide the materials used in the tea drying process, and timber for construction. Collectively the tea and timber plantations have removed large tracts of native vegetation, resulting in both the fragmentation and isolation of what remains of the indigenous flora and fauna.

Our restoration work is underpinned by our desire to expand wildlife conservation areas, restore degraded farmland, protect existing indigenous vegetation and critically threatened habitats and to embrace community engagement in all aspects of our work. We employ a comprehensive restoration approach that involves reintroducing native species, removing invasive species, enhancing soil and water quality, and fostering habitat connectivity.

At all of our restoration sites we incorporate biocultural approaches, where we merge science with indigenous and local knowledge. This requires us to work closely with local communities who we involve in all aspects of our restoration work, from dialogue with stakeholders, project planning, data collection, to ultimately producing a restoration approach that can be expanded to other forest restoration projects across Uganda and beyond.