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Experts fault NEMA on Bugoma Forest



Rwera-Kaseeta road through Bugoma Forest

The report also points out that 80% of Bugoma is tropical high forest and that the grasslands are sitting on hill tops, where there are frequent fires.

The Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the conversion of part of Bugoma forest reserve is flawed, regarding its methodology and lack of public consultation, according to a report by a US environment expert.

The report containing the critique of The Proposed Kyangwali Mixed Land Use was prepared by Dr Mark Chernaik and staff scientists under the US’ Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), which was contacted by the Africa Institute for Energy and Governance.

The Proposed Kyangwali Mixed Land Use is under Hoima Sugar Limited’s project to turn part of Bugoma forest into a sugar plantation.

“The species of plants and animals found in the proposed project area, contained in the ESIA, is far short of detail and is inadequate in comparison to international best practices,” Chernaik said.

He pointed out that the information about biodiversity of the project relied on the vegetation types of the area, described only in reference to a publication that was produced 56 years ago.

The report states that it is inadequate to rely on a 1964 publication, about the vegetation of Uganda in general, to characterise the vegetation of a project in 2020.

The report also points out that 80% of Bugoma is tropical high forest and that the grasslands are sitting on hill tops, where there are frequent fires.

“There are grasslands which tend to be on hilltops and ridges. They are frequently burnt by fire in dry seasons,” Chernaik stated.

Birds assessment inadequate

Regarding the identity of birds and mammals within the project area, the US expert points out that the ESIA, cleared by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), relied on field studies. However, the duration and intensity of field studies fall far short of international best practices.

“First, a four-day or five-day period is inherently inadequate to characterise bird and mammal populations of a project area, considering the large seasonal variations in animal behaviour. For example, many bird species are migratory and inhabit an area for a limited duration,” the report stated.

Sugarcane plantations close to Bugoma forest reserve

“Second, the methodology could not possibly cover the 22 squaremile extent of the project area. This is vividly presented in the ESIA report, pointing out Walked Through Areas of Interest comprise a small fraction of the project area.”

He adds: “The surveys were conducted through reconnaissance walks along routes already existent in the forests, hereafter referred to as the transects. These traversed through five general areas of the forest section of interest, with transects ranging from two to seven kilometres or just a few 100 metres. The routes are those used by members of the local community to access parts of the forest or used by herdsmen for cattle to different grazing points.”

Bugoma’s hydrological functions

“The only major river is Nkuse (Nguse) flowing along the southern boundary of Bugoma CFR, towards Lake Albert. The Kyangwali ancestral land and Bugoma CFR are poorly provided with permanent streams since most of the small ones dry up in the dry season. The only one which carries a permanent flow is Rutowa. However, Hohwa and Rwemiseke, which used to be permanent, are now seasonal.”

The ESIA frequently mentions wetlands within the project area. Regarding rivers and streams, the ESIA contains no information about the hydrological functions performed by these wetlands within the project area.

Without such information, the correct impact of the project on the environment could not be arrived at.

Climate change

The ESIA contains no information about the ecological functions of the proposed site in mitigating climate change. It also does not propose measures to enhance such functions for the purpose of ensuring long term adaptation to climate change.

The proposed project site is predominantly vegetated. As such, it mitigates the adverse impacts of climate change by taking up and storing carbon in above and below ground biomass. When cleared, such biomass results in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

This failure of the ESIA is compounded by the problem that sugarcane plantations have adverse impacts on the climate as sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

The US expert’s report points out that “considering climate change is an existential threat to the environment and societies, without information required by the terms of reference, stakeholders and decisionmakers are unable to rationally decide whether the proposed project is acceptable from an environmental and social standpoint”.

“Knowing that this is a water-stressed area, with the existing population already having water supply issues, it is likely to bring about conflicts when an additional workforce in thousands comes to the area,” he adds.

The expert also said no maps nor GPS co-ordinates for the project site are provided in the body of the ESIA. On the contrary, the body of the ESIA contains vague information about the location of project components.

“The proposed sugarcane plantation will be established on approximately 12-square-miles of the 22, while the remaining 10 acres will be under a natural reserve forest, planted forest, ecotourism, river and streams buffers and the planned urban centre,” Chernaik said.

Also, the Certificate of Approval of the ESIA seems to contain GPS co-ordinates of “natural forest cover for conservation and eco-tourism purposes” and “boundaries of the sugarcane plantation”.

However, being issued later in time, the Certificate of Approval of the ESIA was not a part of the assessment and, thus, any information in the Certificate of Approval was not shared with stakeholders during the ESIA process.

Poor assessment of impacts

Chernaik observed that the ESIA did not carry out a comprehensive evaluation of negative environmental and social impacts associated with project activities.

First, because the ESIA poorly characterised the existing baseline distribution of wildlife, including birds and mammals. It also lacked any data about existing baseline distribution of reptiles and pollinators.

The document is inherently incapable of comprehensive evaluation of negative impacts to wildlife.

In fact, the evaluation of negative impacts to wildlife is confined to a single sentence in ESIA.

This reads: “Loss of habitats for wildlife is another negative attribute that will arise.”

Chernaik argued that it is unreasonable to consider that the information above is a comprehensive evaluation of the negative environmental impacts to wildlife by a project that would alter the landscape of 22 square miles, adjacent to the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

The information contains no assessment or analysis of how the project would disturb threatened and endangered species and other keystone species that are the foundation of the biodiversity of the area.

The environment expert criticised the ESIA for not providing detailed mitigation, environmental management and monitoring plans relating to identified environmental impact of the project.


The local workers and people awarded contracts will contribute to the economy through the appropriate payment of taxes and local expenditure, according to the ESIA.

However, Chernaik points out that this statement does not quantify the number of jobs that will be created as a result of the project, as required by the terms of reference.

This, according to him, is the essential information for stakeholders and decision-makers that is missing from the ESIA.

Chernaik also noted that there will be some difficulty in accessing forestry resources neighbouring the proposed site for the mixed land use project.

“Most of these resources are being obtained from the woodland section earmarked for cane growing, hence its development will lead to total inability to access them,” he stated.

Ecotrust comments on ESIA

In a related development, the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), on behalf of a group of stakeholders, said the assessment has several defects and does meet the required considerations for an ESIA.

According to the ESIA, the study is based on the National Environment Management Act, 1995, which has been repealed and replaced.

This scenario implies that the report did not cover a large proportion of what is expected by Uganda’s environmental legislation on which the ESIA is anchored.

Notably, the report is lacking in critical aspects, such as potential impact on soil characteristics, wildlife behaviour, wildlife corridors, as well as the critical environmental services of provisioning regulating, cultural and supporting services.


On behalf of their partners, Pauline Nantongo, the director of Environmental Conservation Trust Uganda, said the critique of the ESIA for the Proposed Kyangwali Mixed Land Use was sent to NEMA’s Dr Tom Okurut.

“Your comments and conclusion are well received; I note you never saw anything positive on the requested investment,” Okurut said.

“The comments shall be matrix analysed together with input from others, then ranked to inform final decision.”

**New Vision

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farm news

Falling coffee prices, reduced output forecasts rattle Uganda farmers



There has been a slump in international coffee prices and shipping costs in the last quarter of 2022

Uganda’s coffee industry is walking into a challenging 2023 defined by falling prices and diminished output forecasts following the recent dry spell that hit major growing areas.

While the sector enjoyed a boom between 2020 and 2022 – with surging coffee prices, rising export volumes and considerable incomes for farmers – decline in international shipping costs and improved production forecasts in Brazil triggered a slump in coffee prices in the last quarter of 2022, according to industry players.

International shipping costs dropped from record highs of $10,000 per container charged on certain sea routes in January 2022 to less than $2,000. Shipping fees charged per 20-foot container ferried from Indonesia to North America, for example, are estimated at $800-$1,000 currently.

Consequently, local and international coffee prices have dropped since October 2022.

International robusta coffee prices fell from an average price of $2,400 per tonne to $1,856 per tonne towards the end of last year, according to industry data. Local robusta coffee prices declined from Ush7,200 ($1.9) per kilogramme to Ush5,800 ($1.6) per kilogramme during the second half of 2022 while Arabica coffee prices fell from Ush11,000 ($2.9) per kilogramme to Ush8,000 ($2) per kilogramme in the period.

In 2021, average coffee prices stood at more than Ush15,000 ($4) per kilogramme.

Dry spell

Robusta coffee production accounts for more than 60 percent of Uganda’s overall coffee output.

Besides gloomy coffee price forecasts for 2023, a severe dry spell in the past six months could pose a huge threat to coffee production levels. The weather affected major coffee-growing areas like the Central region and risks cutting this year’s output to around 5.5 million bags, industry players forecast.

“Brazil and Vietnam are headed for a bumper coffee harvest this year while India and Indonesia have discounted their local coffee prices in a way that has undercut Uganda’s growth momentum on the international market,” said Robert Byaruhanga, chief executive of local exporter Funzo Coffee Ltd.

Post-Covid shift

Asian and Latin American coffee exporters are regaining dominance in European and North American markets after the lockdown period because of the lower coffee prices, reduced freight charges, shorter port clearance turnaround times and reasonable coffee quality grades, Byaruhanga explained.

Ugandan farmers are now holding onto their coffee produce in anticipation of better prices.

Overall coffee exports stood at 6.26 million bags valued at $862.28 million in 2021/22 compared to 6.08 million bags worth $559.16 million registered in 2020/21, data from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority shows.

An estimated 447,162. 60 kilogramme bags of coffee valued at $64.1 million were exported in November 2022 at an average price of $2.39 per kilogramme — 6 US cents lower than the average price of $2.45 per kilogramme posted in October 2022.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Over 40 goats die of PPR disease in Madi-Okollo



At least 43 goats have died of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease, also known as ‘goat plague’ and several others are undergoing treatment in Madi-Okollo district.

Madi-Okollo district veterinary officer, Dr Charles Onzima, says the viral disease, which is related to rinderpest in sheep as well as goats, has claimed the lives of goats in Olali parish in Ogoko sub-county.

He adds that PPR disease was confirmed in the district after 500 local and 94 Boer goats were supplied to families in Olali parish under a poverty eradication programme that he suspects infected the local goats.

43 of the boar goats died while 10 of the local goats of the communities also died of PPR disease.

Onzima says immediately after receiving information about the disease, the veterinary officers got the goats manifesting the signs of PPR that include sudden onset of depression, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, breathing difficulty and death among others.

He says that they have already had three rounds of vaccination for the available goats in the affected area.

Original Source: New Vision Via

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Artisanal gold miners defy government on mercury use



In October, President Museveni signed into the law the Mining and Minerals Act 2022. One of the key provisions in the law is the banning of mercury use in mining activities.

Artisanal and small scale gold miners in Uganda use mercury to separate gold from the ores, a method they say is cost effective, fast and easy to use. During this process, mercury is mixed with gold containing materials to form a mercury gold amalgam which is then heated to obtain the gold from the sediments.

The miners do the processing without wearing any personal protective gear. However, different Non- Government and Civil Society Organizations have over the years warned these miners against using mercury as it poses serious health threats to human life and dangerous to the environment.

But even with the government banning the use of mercury and several warning about the dangers it imposes, gold miners are not yet ready to stop using the substance especially since the government is not providing any viable alternative method they can use.

In Tiira mining site, Tiira town council, Busia district, gold miners expressed their concerns on this ban. Stephen Engidhoh, the Eastern Uganda chairman of Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (UGAASM) said that mining has created jobs for over 30,000 people in Busia alone and with the government ban on use of mercury, many of them are likely to remain jobless.

He noted that in every sub county in Busia district, there are people during the exploration of minerals but the large gold discoveries here should not be an excuse to eliminate the small-scale miners from the mining sector because these minerals belong to all of them and it where they make a living from.

He added that if government wants this directive to be implemented, it should enforce it gradually and after finding an alternative method the miners can use.

“Government should first sensitize the miners about the dangers of using mercury before eliminating it. By government coming to abruptly ban the use of mercury, it is already creating indirect employment for smugglers to smuggle it into the country than they think they are eliminating,” Engidoh said.

Paul Angesu, the chairman on Tiira Landlords and Artisanal Miners Association said that even though they have been told that mercury is dangerous, for all the years they have used, they have never seen anyone experiencing the danger they say it causes.

“The government still needs to carry out thorough investigations on the possible dangers of using mercury so that it presents to the local miners with practical evidence that indeed mercury is dangerous and this will make us to easily stop using it,” Angesu said.

He added that sometime back, the Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH) came and took samples of mercury from the miners but they were not able to submit in the feedback for them to know if indeed they are indeed being affected by mercury.

An alternative gold extraction method which has been suggested to the artisanal gold miners is the use of borax method’ a technique of artisanal gold mining which use borax (a chemical compound) as a flux to purify gold. However, the miners say the government has not taken the initiative of introducing this method to them and training them on how to use it.

“They want us to use borax as an alternative to mercury but most of us don’t even know how borax looks like or even how it works. How do they expect us to start using something they have never taken the initiative to introduce to us?” Angesu asked.

Ramadhan Birenge, a gold miner in Namayingo district has tried using borax before after an NGO brought a sample of it to them. He however said that there is no any another way a miner can use to get gold clearly and quickly other than using mercury.

“The borax they are telling us to use is very expensive and not easily accessible to us, we don’t even know where it is sold and to get gold through using borax is a very long process yet mercury is a very easy, shorter process and relatively cheap.”

John Bosco Bukya, the chairman of Uganda Artisanal Miners Association told The Observer that they are law abiding citizens and since they have tested the consequences of operating in irregularities, they have no big problem with banning of mercury use in mining areas.

But however, before government bans it, it should provide the miners with an alternative processing reagent. He noted that government may not succeed with the ban and not because the miners don’t want to stop using mercury, but because the available alternatives must be effective, efficient and affordable.

“We don’t know anything about the borax method which they say can be an alternative. We don’t know where it is manufactured from, neither its cost or effectiveness. Government should first train the miners of an alternative method, test its effectiveness and efficiency before banning the method currently being used. If it is more efficient, definitely miners will stop using mercury,” Bukya said.

He also advised government to first sensitize these miners about the dangers of mercury before enforcing it and then phase it out gradually and not immediately because it is going to affect the livelihoods of Ugandans who are in this sector and yet it is the responsibility of government to make sure that all Ugandans thrive in their businesses.

Mercury is smuggled into Uganda through the porous borders with Kenya by cartels which makes its trade illegal. It is then discreetly sold to artisanal miners in Busia with a Kg costing between Shs 600,000 to Shs 1 million.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to mercury, even small amounts may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes as well as pose a threat to the development of the child in the womb for pregnant women.

Most of these ailments manifest over time. People who burn the gold usually take in large doses of mercury because they directly inhale the metals but those who may get it after eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with mercury take it in slowly and it accumulates over time.

Mercury also contaminates the soil making it infertile and unable to support agriculture, water and air. Mercury emitted to the air can also circulate around and contaminate water, fish and wildlife far from the mine from which it was released which affects the biodiversity.

Original Source: The Observer

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