Basua people


Basua / Semliki

The Basua people, a little known Ugandan tribe of just one hundred people, is facing the threat of extinction, IRIN news reported last week. According to IRIN, the Basua were forcibly removed from their forest home two decades ago. They have also struggled to cope with modern life and have been ravaged by health crises, including HIV.

Uganda has two indigenous forest communities:

Already marginalized for their short stature and for being traditional forest dwellers, the Basua have continued to receive less assistance than the Batwa because they are more geographically isolated and have a smaller population, numbering just 100.



Western Uganda’s Semliki Forest – the historical home of the Basua – became a National Park in 1993, and as a result, the community has lost its hunter-gatherer existence. They now have to request permission to fish and collect medicinal herbs and firewood, and are forbidden from hunting.

The Basua have been moved around ever since, most recently to a village outside the small trading town of Bundimasoli in 2007, after a local NGO won a grant from the European Union to build a village for them, but the project collapsed under corruption allegations before it was completed.

The community still has no clear rights to the land where it was resettled, and struggles to access basic services such as clean drinking water and healthcare.


Life problems

Some Basua men and women find casual jobs such as hauling wood, but most sit around the village with nothing to do. Some have turned to alcohol. Of the 40 children, only two attend school, either because they are orphaned or their parents cannot afford the cost of pens and school fees. Fifteen of the community’s children are orphans.