The Batwa Group
Historically, the Batwa were forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers, maintaining livelihoods within the high altitude forests around
Lake Kivu and Lake Edward in the Great Lakes region of Central and East Africa. The Batwa are widely regarded by their neighbours,
and historians, as the first inhabitants of the region, who were later joined by incoming farmers and pastoralists approximately 1000 years ago.
Today, the Batwa are still living in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In each of these countries the Batwa exist as a minority ethnic group living amongst the largely Bahutu and Batutsi populations.
In Uganda their dominant neighbours are the Bafumbira and Bakiga People.
While accurate figures are difficult to determine, as estimates vary between different sources, it is believed that approximately 6,700 Batwa now live within the present State boundaries of Uganda, with approximately half living in the south-west region of Uganda. The Batwa in this region are former inhabitants of the Bwindi, Mgahinga and Echuya forests, where they lived since time immemorial in coexistence with the environment and in full reliance on the forest for their physical, economic, spiritual, and social sustenance. Recently, however, they have suffered evictions and exclusions from their forests primarily for the creation of protected areas that were established without their participation or their free, prior and informed consent.