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Abstract

The Benet community has been living traditionally for hundreds of

years in Mountain Elgon, in Uganda. The semi-nomad tribal people feed

themselves through hunting, gathering forest fruits, and producing

handicrafts. In the 1990s a state project, supported by the tourism industry,

declared this territory a natural reserve. The community was not included

in the project and measures were not taken to ensure its livelihood; on the

contrary, community members were evicted from their lands at least two

times, and restricted to very small plots of land under precarious living

conditions. These state actions left the Benets without any means to

survive. Today, their access to food and water is qualitatively,

quantitatively, and culturally inadequate. Moreover, their access to the

spiritual places they used to enjoy is restricted. Even though the national

court has issued a judgment of consent, which orders the competent

authorities to restore the lands to the community and to adopt emergency

measures to ensure their survival,2 nothing has been done since the order

was adopted. The natural reserve is now available for tourists, who enjoy

the wonderful nature, while the Benets die of hunger. The Food First

Information and Action Network International (FIAN International) has

addressed the issue with diverse authorities at the national and

international level, but possible solutions have not been implemented and

the issue has not been dealt with beyond the exchange of emails among

public officers. Since a FIAN International delegation made a field visit, in

March 2009, at least two children have died due to malnutrition.

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