The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has partnered with Uganda’s celebrated long-distance runner, Joshua Cheptegei, to champion the cause of tourism and biodiversity conservation in the Elgon region.
Joshua Cheptegei, a global sporting sensation and world record holder in multiple categories, including 5000 meters and 10,000 meters, along with being an Olympic and World champion, will lend his iconic brand to support UNDP’s conservation efforts. Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP Resident Representative for Uganda, emphasized that this partnership aims to bolster climate action and preserve the Elgon region’s natural beauty while generating new opportunities for youth and women. Attafuah further highlighted the untapped potential of mountain and valley tourism in the area.
Attafuah noted that sports events, particularly marathons, have a significant role in promoting tourism on a global scale. Uganda, with its vast potential in this arena, stands to benefit tremendously once this avenue is fully harnessed. As part of this partnership, the UNDP-Elgon half marathon will be established as a flagship activity.
The announcement of this partnership took place at the National Forestry Authority (NFA) in Kampala, where Cheptegei expressed that the UNDP-Elgon marathon represents a call to address pressing environmental challenges that threaten humanity’s existence. He emphasized its potential to raise awareness about the protection and restoration of biodiversity while rekindling cultural connections in the region.
This unique collaboration, bridging the realms of sports and conservation, holds the promise of showcasing Uganda to the world and attracting global participation, aligning perfectly with the essence of tourism.
Tom Obong Okello, the Executive Director of NFA, highlighted the opportunity presented by the marathon to introduce tree species resistant to pests, diseases, and adverse weather conditions to the region—a project gaining momentum. Acknowledging that Uganda’s tourism relies heavily on its natural environment, Obong stressed the importance of conserving biodiversity to serve both environmental and community needs.
The inaugural UNDP-Elgon marathon is set to captivate audiences on October 28, 2023, in Mbale city. This event will serve as a platform to showcase Uganda’s pristine natural beauty in the Elgon region while contributing to a sustainable and prosperous future for all.