BY AMBROSE GAHENE
COVID 19 Pandemic having negatively affected different sectors, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities was not spared either. With the number of tourists visiting Uganda dwindling drastically from 2020, the Tourism Ministry revenue generation was adversely affected.
It’s against this backdrop; that the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has embarked on promoting handicrafts; under a three year Tier IIHandicrafts and Souvenir Development Project.
According to Mrs Grace Mbabazi Aulo, the Project Coordinator, the project is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and implemented by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, with technical support from International Trade Centre (ITC).
‘The project seeks to respond to the Government’s efforts to diversify and increase exports of non- traditional exports while supporting increased job creation and employment as provided for in the Uganda Vision 2040, National Trade Policy 2008, National Development Plan II, the National Tourism Development Master Plan 2014/2024 and Uganda Tourism Policy 2015”, Mrs Aulo said.She said the objective of the project is to develop the handicrafts and souvenir sector in Uganda.
“Overall, the program looks at creating linkages between the producers, associations and the traders of handcrafted products and the tourism industry to improve livelihoods for some of the most marginalized communities in Uganda”, she added.
Mrs Aulo in addition said the souvenir and craft development programme implementation is based on the need to develop an approach to tourism that creates backward linkages to crafts and souvenirs.
“Impact is achieved by increasing the sectors’ competitiveness on the level of production (product development, product design, supply chain management, production techniques, conformity with standards and other quality related training interventions while strengthening the existing quality control infrastructure and packaging)”, she emphasized.
Allan Crispus Ategeka, the Project Assistant, while conducting Governance and Leadership Training in Kampala recently, pointed out that Key focus is on supporting production of functional items, which are in demand to both the local market and the international buyers. He said Interventions emphasize product development and diversification, increased production and quality enhancement.
He enumerated project activities to include; supporting capacity building to producers, associations and exporters of handicrafts and souvenirs; renovate and establish production centers, strengthen market linkages for producers, exporters of handicrafts and the tourism sector andsupporting handicraft firms to adopt e-commerce
“The project expects to yield fruitful results, which include; improved performance of the handicrafts and Souvenir sector; strengthening capacities of Trade Support Institutions to provide better business service and increased production and export of handicrafts among others”, he added.
Other Partners include the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Uganda Tourist Board, and Crafts Association, National Association of Women Organization, Uganda Export Promotion Board, Uganda Tourism Association and the Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA). The National Steering Committee under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) provides oversight of the project.
“There will be close collaboration between ITC, the project advisory/technical team and the National Steering Committee to ensure that activities are implemented in time”, pointed out Ategeka
The project targets micro and small craft, souvenir producing enterprises and local communities in the tourism sector, and responds to the pressing need for having on the market authentic locally produced quality handicrafts and souvenirs for sale to the public, tourists and export market. The project also focuses on strengthening market access of handicrafts and souvenirs linkages to the tourism sector, packaging, marketing, developing an efficient structure to link producers to retailers.
The publicity of this project and its outputs has led to increased focus on the handicraft and souvenirs industry, which is one of the main linkages between the trade sector and the tourism sector.