Some of the trees that were cut down in Namave forest on July 16. Photo | Damali Mukhaye
A section of tree farmers who were given licences by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to plant trees in Namanve Forest Reserve have raised the red flag after unknown people destroyed their trees without their knowledge.
The secretary general of the Namanve tree farmers group, Mr Wilson Rubayiza, told Daily Monitor yesterday in an interview that a number of unknown people have been claiming to have land titles in the forest reserve since 2016.
“They usually come at night, but for the recent one, they came when it was raining. Government should come to our rescue because we are also local investors,” he said.
The incident happened last week on Thursday when unknown people came and destroyed 10 hectares of trees.
Mr Rubayiza said in total, 80 hectares of trees have been destroyed since 2016 and nothing has been done to stop the land grabbers from taking government land.
Mr Rubayiza also said it is evident that some people in ‘big offices’ are involved in the land grabbing because their plight has gone unresolved for years.
Tree farming licences
“We were licensed by the forest department and later taken up by NFA to grow trees. We have been growing trees in compartment 8, 9 and 14. It is the government that brought us here, so why should someone come claiming the land that belongs to the government?” Mr Rubayiza said.
Mr Joram Gayola, one of the growers, said seven hectares of his trees worth Shs70 million, were cut down last week on Thursday.
Mr Gayola said he got his licence to plant trees in the forest reserve in 2005 and he has been paying Shs50,000 to NFA per hectare, per year as ground rent.
“We do not know who is destroying our trees. We are not safe anymore because we do not know where they are going to destroy next. No one has a right to cut down our trees,” he said.
Paul Lunakwita, another tree grower, said his five hectares were cleared in 2016 by unknown people and to date, he has not gotten any compensation.
He said if the government wants to take back the land, they should come out in the open, compensate the tree farmers and take over the land officially.
According to one of the licences Daily Monitor has seen between NFA and Paul Lunakwita, the grower was given 10 hectare of land to plant trees and his licence expires in 2032.
When contacted by the Daily Monitor yesterday, the executive director of NFA, Mr Tom Obong Okello, said he is aware that the trees were destroyed last week and he was heading to the police to have this resolved.
The NFA boss said part of this forest reserve was given to Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the other part is supposed to be a forest reserve.
“I am aware of that situation and there are some issues that have not been resolved because there are people claiming that land. They are saying the land belongs to them but as NFA, that land belongs to the government,” Mr Okello said.
“When I got a call last week that there were people cutting trees, I called the police and they intervened and arrested all the people who were cutting the trees. I am going to meet them at the police station right now and we have to go on the ground and ascertain what they are talking about,” he added.
When I got a call last week that there were people cutting trees, I called the police and they intervened and arrested all the people who were cutting the trees. I am going to meet them at the police station right now and we have to go on the ground and ascertain what they are talking about,” Mr Tom Obong Okello, the executive director of NFA.
Report links 1,600 deaths to pesticide poisoning
A total of 1,599 deaths between 2017 and 2022 were linked to organophosphate (pesticide) poisoning, researchers from Uganda National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) and the Health ministry found.This information is in one of the reports presented yesterday during the 9th National Field Epidemiology Conference in Kampala.
The study led by Mr Robert Zavuga was based on the data from the District Health Information System (of the Health ministry), which is received from health facilities across the country.“A total of 37,883 (average of 6,314 per year) organophosphate (OP) [health facility] admissions and 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported,” the report reads.
OP admission was defined by researchers as a hospital stay due to suspected OP poisoning. In contrast, OP poisoning death was defined as inpatient death with OP poisoning listed as the cause of death.The researchers linked the poisoning to the widespread use of OP pesticides by farmers in the country amid limited knowledge of how to use the pesticides safely.
“Uganda has an agricultural-based economy with widespread use of organophosphate-based pesticides. This elevates the risk for OP poisoning in the population,” the report reads further.According to the report, the overall average incidence was 15 organophosphate admissions per 100,000 persons.
On areas, sex and age that are most affected, the report indicates, “residents of Ankole Sub-region were more affected while those in Lango Sub-region were least affected.”“Males had a higher incidence of organophosphate poisoning than females. Children under 5 years had a higher incidence than persons above 5 years (20 vs 14/100,000),” the report said.
Overall, 1,599 (average of 267 per year) deaths were reported between 2017 and 2022. Residents in Kampala had the highest overall case fatality rate (CFR) while those in Teso had the lowest (CFR: 8.5 percent vs 2.2 percent),” the report reads.
According to the report released yesterday, “there was more than 3-fold decline in incidence of OP poisoning admissions per 100,000 population from 2017-2022,” however, the researchers noted, “there was no significant change in the case fatality rate of organophosphate poisoning.”
“The incidence of organophosphate poisoning admissions declined throughout the study period. Since 2014, Uganda has implemented periodic public awareness campaigns about safe use of pesticides for small-holder farmers and pesticide dealers,” the report says.
“These campaigns have included sensitisation about responsible handling to reduce risk of poisoning and environmental pollution.
Additional campaigns targeting government pesticide regulators, non-governmental organisations, and media have also been implemented to address the dangers of organophosphate poisoning,” it adds.
The report says Uganda has also implemented the Agricultural Chemical Control Act to use less toxic pesticides, which may be contributing to the reduction in organophosphate poisonings.“To continue this decline, it is important to monitor and strengthen these interventions,” the researchers from UNIPH and Health ministry recommended.
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.
From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.
The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.
In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.
The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to
- fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
- avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
- strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
Kigezi In Famine Scare After Drought Hits The Region
Farmers in Rubanda district are living in fear that they may be hit by famine due to the prolonged drought that has greatly affected the area. This comes after the area was hit by heavy rains in the month of May 2023, which left most of the gardens washed away, and since then the dry season has started up to date.
This is the first of its kind for Rubanda district and Kigezi at large to undergo such a prolonged drought.
According to farmers, this is the first of its kind for Rubanda to go through a long drought, adding that they are in fear that they may be hit by famine since they were used to receiving rains at the beginning of August, which is not the case this year. They add that even the seedlings that they had planted excepting that the rains would come have all dried up by the long spell.
Farmers also say that they don’t know what could be the cause that has stopped the rains,adding that the government should come up with a program that provides them with seedlings.
Akampurira Prossy Mbabazi, a woman Member of Parliament for Rubanda District, says that the issue of drought is not only in Rubanda District; however, this is the first of its kind. She adds that the drought comes after the area was hit by heavy rains, which caused a lot of challenges, adding that now it is the drought that may affect the farmers.
Akampurira further says that, as a leader,she will continue to educate farmers on better methods of farming depending on climate change.
Kikafunda Evelyne, founder of Green Environment Promotion (GEP), says it’s sad that farmers in Rubanda district and Kigezi at large are experiencing a long drought. She attributes it to problems of environmental degradation that include swamps being reclaimed, deforestation, and plastic pollution, adding that this is an indication that people don’t mind about the environment.
Kikafunda calls upon all people to take part in protecting the environment, adding that environmentalists should devise means on how to protect the environment.
It’s now been four months since it last rained in the districts of greater Kabale, that is, Rubanda, Kabale, and Rukiga districts, as well as other parts of the Kigezi Subregion.
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