Uganda Study Area



Indigenous to the Central African equatorial rainforest, the Batwa Pygmy (also known as Abayanda or Twa) are genetically one of the oldest groups in the world. IHACC has chosen to work with the Batwa in the highlands of Southwest Uganda, who were evicted from the forest following the creation of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 1991. Forced migration to communities near the forest has led to loss of access to traditional foods and remedies, and adjustment to agricultural livelihoods. They experience significantly poorer health outcomes than the Ugandan average. Four communities have been selected for study. Pilot research was carried out a two communites: Mukongoro and Kihembe.




Population: mixed population, about 25 Batwa adults

Access: 45min walk from Buhoma (trading center near park gates –  reachable by road, 414Km from Kamapla)

Description: Mukongoros is surrounded by steep cultivated hills, large banana plantations, and patches of surviving forest. Batwa households are located together at the outskirts of the main community which consists of about 120 households. Many Batwa here are originally from the Congo, the border which is only 1Km away. They have actively taken up agriculture as a principal livelihood. Participants reported poor water sources and exhausted, infertile soils.


Population: entirely Batwa – 15 households

Access: 40km from Bwindi National Park

Description: Farther from the Park, Kihembe is less subject to the Forest microclimate, experiencing hotter and drier weather than Batwa communities close to the park. The absence of children in the community was striking. Most attend a boarding school, paid for by a local NGO and only return home on holidays. Agriculture is the principal livelihodd, although many community members also engage in hired labor. Poor housing, insecure land tenure, and contaminated water were participants main concerns.











Partner Organizations


BDP Batwa Development Program
Kanungu District Administration Local district government
BCH Bwindi Community Hospital







  1. Donnelly, B., L. Berrang-Ford, J. Labbe, S. Twesigomwe, S. Lwasa, B.D. Namanya, S.L. Harper, M. Kulkarni, N.A. Ross, IHACC Research Team, and P. Michel (2016) Prevalence and risk factors of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasitemia among Indigenous Batwa and non-Indigenous communities of Kanungu District, Uganda. Malaria Journal 15:254.
  2. Clark S, Berrang-Ford L, Lwasa S, Namanya D, Twesigomwe S, IHACC Research Team, et al. (2016) A Longitudinal Analysis of Mosquito Net Ownership and Use in an Indigenous Batwa Population after a Targeted Distribution. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0154808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154808
  3. Labbé, J., Ford, JD., Berrang-Ford, L., Donnelly, B., Lwasa, S., Namanya, DB., Twesigomwe, S., IHACC Research Team, Harper, SL. (In Press). Vulnerability to the health effects of climate variability in rural southwestern Uganda. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.
  4. Clark, S., Berrang-Ford, L., Lwasa, S., Namanya, D.B., Edge, V.L., IHACC Research Team, and Harper, S. (2014). The burden and determinants of self-reported acute gastrointestinal illness in an Indigenous Batwa Pygmy population in southwestern Uganda. Epidemiology and Infection, [Epub ahead of print].
  5. Lewnard J, Berrang-Ford L, Lwasa S, Namanya D, Patterson, K Donnelly B, Kulkarni-Woodstock M, Harper S, Ogden N, Carcamo C, Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change Research Group. (2014). Relative undernourishment and food insecurity associations with Plasmodium falciparum among Batwa pygmies in Uganda: evidence from a cross-sectional survey. American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, 91(1): 39-49.
  6. Berrang-Ford, L. Dingle, K., Ford, J et al. (2012). Vulnerability of Indigenous Health to Climate Change: A Case Study of Uganda’s Batwa Pygmies. Social Science & Medicine, 75: 1067-1077.



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