As the countdown to the highly anticipated Tusker Lite Mt Rwenzori Marathon on September 2nd in Kasese draws nearer, the organizers have announced a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This is the second time UNDP is coming on board.
During a press conference held at the UNDP headquarters on Yusuf Lule Road in Kampala on Thursday, Amos Wekesa, representing Equator Hikes and the event organizers, highlighted that securing UNDP’s involvement was a seamless process. Elsie Attafuah, the Resident Representative for Uganda, played a pivotal role due to her profound dedication to the country.
“We found it relatively easy to bring UNDP on board. Elsie Attafuah’s passion for Uganda is evident, and this partnership aligns with UNDP’s resources, which predominantly focus on attracting international runners. These participants significantly contribute to the local economy by staying for an extended period—arriving a week before the marathon and departing a week after. Throughout their stay, they inject money into various sectors,” Wekesa explained.
Addressing the media, Elsie Attafuah emphasized UNDP’s role as the largest development agency within the United Nations. She stated that their mission is to enhance people’s lives through diverse avenues, and they view events like this marathon as pathways to achieve such goals, particularly by promoting tourism.
“We recognize the potential of leveraging Uganda’s natural gifts through tourism, which serves as a developmental catalyst. This endeavour not only creates employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods but also generates income for the local population,” Attafuah stated.
Highlighting the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector, Attafuah confirmed UNDP’s commitment to aiding the industry’s recovery and fostering resilience.
“The challenges posed by the pandemic were significant for the tourism sector. UNDP is actively contributing to the revitalization of this industry, and we firmly believe that events like this marathon play a vital role in positioning tourism as a substantial income-generating asset for the country,” Attafuah remarked.
She added, “We consider tourism an essential component of our broader development agenda—an avenue to enhance inclusivity and sustainable livelihoods. Our aspiration is that through initiatives like this, Uganda’s global reputation in terms of tourism will witness substantial enhancement.”
According to Wekesa, the ongoing registration for the marathon has seen an overwhelming response. Anticipating a turnout of more than 2000 participants this year, he highlighted the remarkable growth compared to last year’s 800 runners.