The Environmental Defenders delivered the inaugural “Kilimo Prize Award” during a public event at Mahagi Port, Wagungu territory, DR Congo

On August 23, 2023, the Environmental Defenders awarded the first “Kilimo Prize Award” to 18 individuals and organizations in the Albertine region of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The recipients were carefully selected and honored at the 2023 Kilimo Award ceremony held in Wagungu Chiefdom, Mahagi Port in the Mahagi territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kilimo Prize award is an initiative launched by Environmental Defenders to enhance agricultural growth, preserve the natural environment, uphold human rights, and safeguard land rights in the Albertine area of Uganda and Eastern DR Congo. The Environmental Defenders establish and offer the Kilimo Prize award to enhance the skills and highlight the efforts of local environmental activists, communities, and organizations in the Albertine region. These individuals protect the forest, land, water sources, wildlife, and trees, as well as advocate for human rights and promote climate-smart agriculture at the local level in the Albertine region of Uganda and DR Congo.

For the first Kilimo reward Award, a minimum of 18 winners have received a cash reward in recognition of their efforts to safeguard the environment, advocate for human rights, and advance sustainable agriculture. The Environmental Defenders awarded a total of 10 prizes worth $15,000 to 18 winning laureates divided into 3 categories. This included 8 farmers, 5 women, and 3 men who won the Kilimo Prize Award individually. Additionally, two environmental conservation and agricultural associations each received $1500. The third category includes rewards distributed to organizations of individuals engaged in promoting awareness of wildlife protection. Eight candidates were awarded the 2023 Kilimo Prize for their efforts in protecting the environment, combating climate change, promoting climate justice, defending human rights, and supporting sustainable livelihoods. Two of the recipients were associations or community organizations.Out of the 8 candidates, 6 were activists, with 5 being male and 1 being female.

In the second category, two candidates, one female and one male, were recognized for their efforts in raising awareness about environmental justice, preventing illegal logging, and maintaining their own environmental protection projects. Each candidate received cash and a certificate of award for their dedication to protecting the environment and advocating for human rights.

The third category of the 2023 Kilimo Prize was awarded to persons who are activists fighting against bush fires and those who manage wildfires by extinguishing fires whenever they occur in forests, parks, private reserves, or public territory, among others. There were seven male nominees that were granted the Kilimo Prize Award under this category.

The following are the details of how the 2023 Kilimo Prize award was structured and given to the recipients:

Nominations for the candidates for the Kilimo Prize Award 2023 began on January 10, 2023, and ended on February 29, 2023. The nomination process was widely publicized through various channels including radio, churches, mosques, markets, community halls, hospitals, schools, and fishing villages, as well as in chiefdoms, church institutions, NGOs, and groups in the Albertine region of Uganda and Eastern DR Congo.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we got 290 nominations from Mahagi territory, which includes 5 chiefdoms: WAGUNGU, ANG’HAL, WAR PALARA, DJUKOTH, and PANDURU. We got over 50 nominations from Uganda, mostly from locations such as Pakwach, Buliisa, Masindi, Hoima, and Kikube districts in the Albertine area. Environmental Defenders received around 340 submissions for the 2023 Kilimo Prize Award.Out of 340 nominations, 315 were male candidates and 25 were female candidates.

From March 1, 2023, until May 25, 2023, the Environmental Defenders teams, with the help of Radio Terra FM, gathered and verified nomination paperwork and candidate data supplied by nominators.The procedures were challenging and exhausting, requiring meticulous attention to detail and significant effort from the specialists at Environmental Defenders and Radio Terra. Out of 340 applicants, only 50 were selected for physical interviews, inspections, and due diligence to determine their eligibility for the Kilimo Prize Award based on the award’s parameters, aims, and goals.Out of the 50 selected applicants, 49 were from DR Congo and 9 were from Uganda. Out of the 50 nominees nominated for the Kilimo Prize honors 2023 edition, 15 were girls and 35 were men.

From June 11 to July 25, visits and field investigations were conducted to verify the candidates’ work to determine their eligibility for the 2023 Kilimo Prize award.The procedure includes visiting the works of nominees, interviewing specialists in related subjects, and verifying the actions of the nominated individuals.

The selection committees for the Kilimo Prize award chose 18 people and organizations from the Albertine area of Uganda and Eastern DRC who qualified for the 2023 Kilimo Prize award.Out of the 18 final contenders recognized as winners, 12 were from DR Congo and 6 were from Uganda throughout the three categories of the Kilimo Prize Award for 2023.

The recipients of the KilimomPrize awards were as follows:


Mr. ADUBANG’O AWINGA TITO was the top contender to win the Kilimo Prize Edition 2023 in the Anghal chiefdom of Mahagi, DRC.

Mr. ADUBANG’O AWINGA TITO was nominated for the Kilimo Prize Award for his efforts in tree planting and conservation as a farmer. He resides in his native land of Djupio in Anghal chiefdom. Since 1980, he has been engaged in farming activities such as tree planting, cultivating food crops, fish farming, and beekeeping.
He has planted 12,000 native trees of various sorts along with plants and fruits.He is a forester who has a passion for trees.He has created five fishponds where he produces tilapia fish of the “Randale breed,” a kind he has farmed for 25 years. This has transformed into a tourism and scientific research hub in Djupio.
He has dedicated significant effort to this project to prevent biodiversity loss, protect wetlands, enhance soil fertility, prevent soil erosion, educate future generations about agroforestry benefits, address food insecurity, and secure funds for his children’s education.
The candidate is encountering problems such as climate change, scarcity of supplies for farming, and negative views from others who suspect him of using malevolent powers in his project. He said that he planned to enhance his project “VON KWEN” by purchasing more land to expand his operations while simultaneously maintaining his existing crops, using the Kilimo Prize Award he received.

The paramount chief of Djukoth Chiefdom, His Majesty ATHINDHA LOSTANI JEAN

He received the Kilimo Prize Award for overseeing a significant agroforestry project on 700 hectares of land over 3 hills in the Djukoth chiefdom. He has planted indigenous and non-indigenous tree species, protected water sources, and promoted tree planting among farmers in Djukoth. This is done while cultivating coffee as an agroforestry method to mitigate climate change. Mr. LOSTANI is a renowned breeder of both big and small cattle.

He initiated this project to address food insecurity, tackle climate change, and secure financial resources for his children’s care and education. He aimed to set an example for his subjects, who had long been misled into thinking that a chief should not work and that subjects should provide for the chief through taxes. He believed in working for himself and not solely relying on others as a tribal chief.He has been advocating for peace building and assisting internally displaced persons from Djugu wars in Djukoth by helping them resettle and providing space for farming.

He highlighted challenges in his project, including insufficient funds for labor and security concerns due to CODECO militias from DJUGU disrupting farming activities in Djukoth. This has impacted food security for the Chiefdom subjects due to the ongoing conflicts affecting a large number of people.


Georgette Wanito Anewa, a female farmer and environmental activist, received the Kilimo Prize Award for 2023 for her efforts in safeguarding land rights, empowering women through the Village Saving and Loan Association, and combating gender-based violence at the local level in Mahagi territory of Eastern DR Congo. She has been involved in continuous tree planting programs and has successfully conserved 150 acres of land via this initiative. She utilizes trees for construction materials, furnishings, and as a fuel source for cooking.

She has helped 20 widows assert their land rights when the dead husbands’ family began harassing them. She has accumulated over a decade of experience in providing guidance on land rights and property ownership in her community, making her a sought-after authority among women.

Georgette Wanito Anewa was unable to attend the Kilimo Prize Award event as she gave birth to a baby boy on the same day she was announced as the winner of the 2023 Kilimo Prize award.Her spouse accepted the Kilimo Prize Award on her behalf.

During a ceremony officiated by the Chiefs from five chieftaincies, Georgette Wanito Anewa’s newborn boy was named “Kilimo,” which means farming or cultivation, in honor of the day and the prize she received.


Mr. Ulama Sindani, head of the Association of the Environment in Danger, received the Kilimo Prize Award for their efforts in advocating for community forestry and land rights in Panduru Chiefdm, Mahagi. The group educates on land legislation and raises awareness about environmental conservation.They have motivated individuals to rehabilitate damaged land and safeguard water supplies via educational initiatives and community theatre. The organization, established in 2017, operates under Panduru Chiefdom. Their present focus is on restoring and reforesting Akara hill, where the trees planted by Belgian colonialists were chopped down by the local people when the colonial period ended. The group has successfully planted over 317,111 native trees, 101,602 eucalyptus trees, 602 pine trees, 42,000 citrodora trees, and 107,000 Blakwat trees, among others, due to the dedication of its members since its establishment.

The group also grows cassava, beans, and maize, although the yields are minimal, aiming to support the lives of its members. Recently, they have started farming small animals and have acquired 12 goats, 6 piglets, 8 chickens, and 30 pairs of rabbits.

The members report that the artificial forest on Akara hill in this portion of Mahagi Territory has already resulted in plentiful rainfall.
The group is facing significant challenges because of insufficient financial assistance to purchase essential equipment including hoes, picks, forks, and uniforms. It is also experiencing challenges associated with climate change.


This candidate, the best winner of the kilimo award, Edition 2023, in the Panduru chiefdom, is a displaced person from the violent conflicts in the AWU village of the Ngothe group who has been staying with a host family in Ngothe Centre for some time.

Since 1990, Mr. David has planted over 35,000 trees and protected 500 acres of land.He is also a farmer, growing various food crops such as beans (20 bags per year), maize (40 bags of maize seed per year), soya (6 bags per season), and 2,000 pineapples, which provide him and his family with a decent living. Thanks to his cultivation, the applicant was able to sustain around 30 people that he employed for his operations.

According to his own statement, he also had 30 goats, 11 cows, and several poultry, which were plundered by CODECO militants operating in the area.

Although David lives the life of a displaced person, he is not concerned about food insecurity owing to his agroforestry project, since he travels to his community of origin, AWU, about twenty kilometers away, to get fruit and vegetables to eat.

The trees he planted have provided him with a positive social contact with others around him, since the community in which he resided has erected two schools, a health center, and two local churches as a result of these trees.


A 73-year-old farmer residing in ANG’UZA PAJEN in the Wagungu chiefdom, Mahagi Territory, received the Kilimo Prize for land conservation and environmental and water source protection. He has cultivated several types of trees on his land, such as mango, cypress, lemon, avocado, and more. This 73-year-old father farms crops and tubers like cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes to support his family and community financially and provide food. He said that his effort aims to address food poverty, support his children’s education and well-being, and save the environment by preventing soil erosion and absorbing carbon dioxide via tree planting.

FILEMON has successfully supported several children by funding their education and providing them with food via his agriculture initiative that began 56 years ago.

This candidate informed us that his mature trees have become a financial asset for him, providing assistance during challenging times.

Throughout his life, Filemon has served as a community leader, promoting peace and healing across communities. He has particularly focused on mentoring and supporting young people in discovering the significance of environmental conservation. He has championed land rights and resolved tensions in communities by mediating between parties when land disputes arise.


The organization located in Mahagi received the Kilimo Prize award for their efforts in advocating for agro-ecology, climate-smart agriculture, and fostering peace and justice among communities affected by the conflict in DJUGU which is caused by the CODECO paramilitary group.The organization engages in tree planting, establishing community forests, and conducting agricultural and livestock operations in several areas of the MAHAGI region, with a focus on the War Palara chiefdom.

Under the leadership of Mr. UGWOKI PITHUA as coordinator, this group based in Mahagi in the ADU village has been maintaining and expanding numerous native forests for many years to alleviate the food and financial crises resulting from global warming that the world’s population is currently facing.

A savings bank has been established inside the organization to sustain its operations, provide support to specific disadvantaged individuals, and promote tree planting awareness to other local savings clubs.

APDIE not only plants trees but also cultivates food crops including cassava, beans, and maize to support the existence of its members.

This group of farmers has a desire to enhance the quality of their agroforestry project to increase future harvests.

The other recipients of the Kilimo Prize Award 2023 were MAROM KU MUNGU MBE, his majesty paramount chief Unencan Cobidongo of Eagungu, Haramazan Richard, Mungujakisa, One Aceronga, and Lienga, among others whose identities cannot be disclosed for security reasons.



Origins of Kilimo Prize Award
The Kilimo Award was established by the Environmental Defenders led by Gloria Ayiorwoth and Robert Agenonga. In 2021, the Environmental Defenders and its team received a nomination for an international prize recognizing human rights and environmental justice, which is located in Europe. The staff of Environmental Defenders encountered questionable practices during the nomination and research processes for an award the organization was nominated for. This led to doubts about the credibility and transparency of the internationally renowned awards project, which was ultimately found to be corrupt and lacking transparency in its selection of winners. After a series of interviews, email exchanges, on-site visits, and meetings between the award issuing organization in Europe and Environmental Defenders, it was discovered that the selection process was corrupted. The European human rights award and environmental justice foundation already knew in advance which organizations or individuals would receive the prestigious award before conducting any scheduled meetings, interviews, or visits with Environmental Defenders.

We are aware that there are several worldwide prizes of this kind, but they seldom have a positive influence. Large sums of money are often awarded to a small number of individuals, typically ranging from 4 to 10 persons or less. The effects of these awards are sometimes not evident, particularly in poor countries. Environmental Defenders was not chosen for the prize, but the screening process has increased our understanding of the cumbersome, corrupt, and bureaucratic procedures involved in the Foundation’s award selection process.
After careful consideration and assessment, the Environmental Defenders have decided that it is important to provide small amounts of money to numerous individuals and organizations that are making significant contributions, rather than giving large sums to a select few whose impact may not be as visible. If Environmental Defenders had received this prize, it may have influenced the organization’s vision. However, it may not have been significant to many individuals who need even a little amount of money to bring joy to their lives.
Hence, we are grateful for not receiving the award. This experience has expanded our understanding of the circumstances. As a result, we have initiated our own awards, which we anticipate will be granted yearly to those deserving recognition at a local level.

The next Kilimo Prize award will take place in 2024, scheduled between June and August. We will discuss the program plan here. To support and sponsor this prize, please contact us at, and we will respond promptly.