By Peter Babyenda
Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom is one of the lucky sub-regions in Uganda to still have at least two large natural rainforests. These are Budongo and Bugoma Rain Forests, although most of the auxiliary forests (small forests) to these two forests have since been degraded largely for settlement, agriculture, tobacco and sugar cane growing.
A case in point are the small forests that used to exist in Hoima, Kibaale and Masindi. The region is also blessed with large chunks of grassland along lake Albert shores and Murchison falls National Park.
On the global level, Uganda is one of the countries in Africa with the highest deforestation rate estimated at about 2.6 percent per annum. This rate is too high to be ignored by all Ugandans of goodwill on the future and sustainable utilization and management of natural resources given our constitution 1995, Uganda vision 2040, UNDP II and III, SDGs 2030 and African Union Agenda 2063. All these provide for the conservation and sustainable use and management of natural resources for economic growth and development, hence the need to protect the remaining natural forests, green cover and all-natural resources in the country for the future generation and for climate regulation.
A natural forest is a non-renewable resource implying that once destroyed, it cannot be recovered fully. That is, if a natural forest is destroyed, there are irreversible effects that come along with it such as the formal tourism attraction potentiality, regulation of climate, medicine, creeping plants and some wild animals such as snakes. birds and insects. Hence, converting a forest into a farmland such as sugar cane growing tantamount to destroying nature, biodiversity, biomass, ecosystem, future incomes and animal habitats including distorting the climatic conditions of the area.
“Humanity easily forgives and forgets but the mother nature neither – Pope Francis”. This quote from Pope Francis II reminds us that destroying the environment and nature has far-reaching effects that may follow us up even in our graves. This is because nature will always revenge against injustices committed to it. Just in May 2020, nature showed us what it can do if disturbed, hope you remember the floating island in Jinja near Owen falls dam and Nalubale dam that led to a total blackout in the country, displacement of people, submerging of recreational places such as beaches, markets, people’s homes, graves, roads and gardens including landing sites. The same problem is currently being experienced along lake Albert shores specifically Wansenko and Butiaba Town councils in Bulisa district and other areas in Pakwachi, Nebbi and Madi-Okollo districts.
As a country, we are also poor in effectively implementing environmental laws such as the 200m buffer zone, 30m from the wetland, the plastic and polythene bag act of 2009, these further accelerate deterioration in Uganda’s environmental quality.
The argument by NEMA that it only approved a grassland and not the forest does not hold water given the fact that the grassland near the forest acts as expansion area for the forest and the grazing and fertilization place for the animals and other inhabitants of the forest. It is also important for ecology and biodiversity conservation.
Secondly, NEMA did not involve the natives including the local community and the clan, the “Ababyasi” clan that is believed to have their ancestry and origin from that same place, “omuhangaizima” and the area local leaders. As NEMA and other agencies responsible for environmental protection and management in Uganda are failing to effectively and authoritatively perform their mandates, their counterparts in Kenya have been able to recover the once grabbed green cover in Nairobi metropolitan area.
Many malls and buildings some belonging to powerful politicians, business persons and former leaders that were constructed in wetlands and other protected areas were demolished to pave way for environmental protection and conservation. The presence of Bugoma contributes to many jobs and revenues both directly and indirectly such as forest officers, UWA staff, tourist guides, pilots, taxi drivers, boda bodas and companies that are involved in the hospitality and timber processing.
Like COVID-19, environmental issues should also be treated as emergency cases. Although the effects of environmental destruction are not immediate, they could be worse than those of COVID-19.
Lastly, for sustainable environmental management and utilization in Uganda, there is need for effective implementation of the existing environmental laws; independent, capable, well facilitated, equipped and incorruptible environmental regulation authority, coordination among all the MDAs involved in environmental protection and management, sensitisation of Ugandans on the importance of the clean and sustainable use of the environment, adequate training of all environmental actors including media, environmental activists, environmental officers in central-local governments in environmental valuation, evaluation, accounting and other environmental issues, encouraging the use of environmentally friendly technologies, subsidisation of alternative energy sources such as gas, solar and electricity, encouraging agroforestry and eco-tourism activities, strengthening the law on the conversion of forests on private land among others.
There need for zoning and change in the settlement plans, building roads for the environment (roads that do not destroy biodiversity and ecology), alternative transport means such as riding to work, switching to electrified moto vehicles and moto cycles among others. No one should be allowed to build or farm in the wetland. There must be continuous monitoring and data updating on all environmental and natural resources in the country including those on private land. There is also a need to regulate bricklaying in the country, reforestation and afforestation programs in hilly and swampy areas top protect rivers and avoid floods in such areas such as Kasese, Kabaale and Elgon areas. Afforestation programs are not only good for protecting natural forests but also for income, timber and wood.
Source: New Vision
Witness Radio welcomes the World Bank’s intervention into Kawaala drainage channel project affected persons…
By witnessradio.org Team
Kampala – Uganda – Witness Radio Uganda has welcomed the World Bank’s decision to intervene into its funded project which is dispossessing poor urban dweller at Kawaala Zone II, Lubaga division, Kampala district.
On March 4th, 2021, the World Bank Team held its first ever virtual meeting with other stakeholders including the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) over a forceful implementation Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP 2) project.
On top of running to court to stop an illegal eviction, the residents through Witness Radio – Uganda lawyers raised a complaint to the World Bank to restrain its grantee (KCCA) from imposing a project they (residents) never participated in from the start.
In 2015, KCCA acquired USD 175 million loan from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) for Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) was earmarked to construct Lubigi Primary Channel.
Without following business and human rights standards, KCCA started using tricks aimed dispossessing the poor urban community at Kawaala including; hiding under section 72(1) cap 281 of the Public Health Act, and issued a notice to dwellers to pull down what it termed illegal structures erected on their land or otherwise, KCCA would do so at the cost of residents, just to cause a property loss to them.
In a meeting chaired by Martin Onyach-Olaa, a Task Team Leader, Senior Urban Specialist at the World Bank, faulted KCCA for failing to engage community including taking the contractor to the ground without their notice.
“The project affected community have valid grievances, which must be attended to in the interest of Kawaala project” Said Onyach-Olaa
The representatives from the affected community accused KCCA of intimidation, undertaking a forceful survey, sidelining and usurping powers of elected local leaders, extortion and undermining business and human rights standards before and during the implementation of the World Bank project.
“I was threatened and forced to participate in KCCA valuation exercise of my properties and I never understood what was done. I was even lured to sign on certain documents that were in a language they never explained and no copy was left with me. I am opposed to the KCCA’s working and I will not allow them to come back on my property: Said Segue Abbas.
He added that when he sought wise counsel from his lawyers, he just realized that he had been duped.
Among other recommendations, KCCA was advised to embark on an inclusive exercise to identity project affected persons, properties to be affected by the project and ensure that surveys and property valuation exercises are undertaken in accordance within the law.
About the Grievance Redress Committee the KCCA claims they elected, the World Bank saw it important that the Grievance Redress Committee be put in place with a complaint book and functional internal appeal mechanism.
It was further emphasized that no Kawaala resident will be forcefully lose his/her under a project being funded by the World Bank.
Oil palm growing threatening food security in Buvuma
Buvuma, Uganda | Several people in Buvuma district have taken to oil palm growing at the expense of food growing. Fishing and subsistence farming were the mainstay of Buvuma residents prior to the introduction of oil palm growing.
However, the residents have surrendered the biggest part of the land they used to plant food crops such as bananas, rice, cassava, maize and sweet potatoes on the main island to National Oil Palm Project-NOPP for the establishment of oil palm gardens. NOPP intends to operate on 10, 000 hectares of land.
The investor Buvuma – Oil Palm Uganda Limited-BOPUL, a subsidiary of Oil Palm Uganda Limited and Bidco Uganda Limited in Kalangala will use 6, 500 hectares of land while the out-growers will use the remaining 3, 500 hectares.
However, since their compensation in 2012, most of the residents have failed to secure alternative land for settlement and food production. Sarasino Namuyimba Ssekajjolo, the Buvuma District Council Speaker, says they have compiled enough information proving that most of the residents have not benefited in the first stages of the project.
He says they are considering tabling a motion halting further land acquisition in areas where NOPP has not concluded the exercise. Ssekajjolo reveals that over 1000 residents have failed to make good use of the money they received as compensation for their land.
A report compiled by Mary Namaganda, the Principal Assistant Curator at Makerere University Collage of Nature Sciences shows that land use change in Bugala [Kalangala] from natural vegetation to monoculture plantation has caused biodiversity loss due to the destruction of the natural habitat, soil degradation and pollution of soil and lake water resulting from the use of nitrate fertilizers, agrochemicals and effluents from the palm oil mill.
BOPUL also intends to setup a mill. Godfrey Yiga, a resident of Kirongo says that he secured another piece of land in Jinja using the Shillings 59 million he received in compensation for his 5-acre piece of land containing a banana plantation, sweet plantains and mangoes. He, however, says that he couldn’t use the remaining balance to setup a new garden.
Nasta Nantongo Kwagala, another resident and widow of the late Yosefu Kavamawanga who cares for seven children and three grandchildren, says NOPP compensated the tenants on her late husband’s land without her consent. She explains that by the time she applied for compensation, she was chased and stopped from farming on the land.
George William Telebajo, another resident says the project took advantage of poverty in Buvuma to trick them into selling their land cheaply. He notes that several residents have ended up in jail for stealing food while others are now sleeping in wooden cubical at landing sites.
Reports from the District Security Commit-DSC point to increased cases of food theft in different camps on landing sites and settlements in forest reserves. Juma Kigongo, the Buvuma Deputy Resident District Commissioner, says about 10 cases of food theft are reported at police and local councils-LCI every month in the four sub counties on the main island.
These include Nairambi, Buwooya, Busamuzi and Buvuma town council. He, however, says most of the people involved in criminal activities are residents who accepted compensations but failed to put the money to good use.
Wilson Sserunjogi, the Buvuma District Oil Palm Project Focal Person, says that many people have failed to put their compensation money to good use much as the project has tried to support them. He notes that for the past years they have been handling complaints and compensated thousands of residents fresh but they keep on coming back for more money after misusing it.
“Residents and leaders are scared for nothing, Buvuma still has land for growing food and also NOPP is here to support them. We also compensated residents with land over 5 acres and above,” he said.
Original Post: The Independent
2,000 Karimojong flee to Teso in search for food
Kampala, Uganda | Several families in Napak district in the Karamoja sub-region have fled their homes into the Teso region to search for casual jobs. This follows the current food shortage which is hitting the region.
Joseph Lomonyang the Napak LC V chairperson says that over 2,000 people mainly from six sub-counties of Matany, Lopei, Lokopo, Lorengechora, Iriiri and Apeitolim have crossed to the neighbouring Teso districts of Amuria, Katakwi, Kapelebyong and Soroti looking for food.
According to Lomonyang, the number of people to flee the district is most likely to go higher given the current hunger situation.
“Last year, very many people planted crops but all the crops got destroyed by floods making our people vulnerable,” he said.
Elijah Lobucel, the Lokopo sub-county chairperson said everyday mothers and their children walk while those who can afford the costs pay for transport to Teso.
“What we are advising them is not to go to Kampala streets, but if its going to Teso for work to get food it is not bad since the Itesot are brothers and sisters under Ateker cluster,” he said.
Jimmy Tebenyang, the district councillor for Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district said many children were getting emaciated as a result of lack of enough food.
“There are families where you find children yawning from morning to evening without eating anything and that is why we are calling the government to come to the rescue of people,” he said.
Robert Okitoi, the LC V chairperson Amuria confirmed the presence of Karamoja families in the district and urged the Itesot families to treat the Karimojong as their brothers and sisters.
He also appealed to other district leaders in the Teso region to receive the people of Karamoja with a good heart and share the little they have.
“This is the situation that requires to share, I call upon the people of Amuria and Teso at large that not all the Karimojong are bad people, those who are bad disturbing to raid people of Teso are few and so we should not victimise every one because the law will deal with those raiding but let’s support the Karimojong families,” he said.
Source: THE INDEPENDENT
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