BFSDA’s mission is to support the wellbeing of the Batwa people, also known as the Twa, mistakenly called the Pygmies of Central Africa. Estimated between 86000 to 112000, the Batwa people are an indigenous group and the oldest recorded inhabitants of the Great Lakes Region in Central Africa.

The Batwa are nomadic hunter-gatherers who once roamed widely across the forest areas stretching across Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here the Batwa were evicted from their ancestral lands in the 1970s through 1990s. They were relegated to the fringes of society for either creation of national parks like in the case of Uganda and Rwanda or by more powerful ethnic groups who wanted to use the land on which they had no legal claim.

Currently, the Batwa communities face discrimination and exploitation from the larger ethnic groups. Forced into smaller and smaller forest areas over the centuries, the Batwa populations managed to preserve their traditional way of life until relatively recently.

The Batwa people live in extreme poverty, often sheltered in makeshift grass-thatched huts moreover in constant fear of being evicted since the majority are squatters on other people’s land.

They are marginalized and excluded from mainstream society, with limited access to work, education, healthcare, or meaningful livelihood opportunities. In Uganda, they’ve struggled to adapt to the changing times since their 1991 eviction from the forests. They’re treated as outcasts by other Ugandans and are often shunned, harassed, or worse still, and the women are forced into sex as some mainstream community folks believe that sleeping with a Batwa woman cures HIV/AIDS.

While tourists pay at least $600 to visit the gorillas in nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Batwa who were evicted from this land to make way for conservation don’t see any of that money. In most Batwa households, children, especially girls, are not afforded education as most get married when they are 13-16 years. 

BFSDA targets supporting the most vulnerable families, including the girl child, to access education and female-headed households and youth to learn skills and engage in self-help livelihood activities that enable them to become progressive and self-reliant.