NEMA faulted for wetland degradation in Uganda

Wetlands are among the most important natural resources in Uganda covering 11% of the country’s total land area. They help in protecting water resources and sustaining agricultural productivity.

However, wetlands are experiencing rapid degradation in various parts of the country resulting into severe environmental impacts such as flash floods and reduced amount of rain fall.

According to the Uganda Wetlands Atlas, wetland destruction costs Uganda nearly 2 billion shillings annually, and contamination of water resources, which is partly caused by reduced buffering capacity of wetlands near open water bodies, costs the country 38 billion shillings annually.

Rosemary Nyangoma, the Hoima District Environmental Officer, decries high rate of wetland encroachment citing some illegal activities carried out as cultivation, brick laying, erecting permanent structures and car washing among others.

Speaking to community Green Radio, Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of Projects at National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) faulted  National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA)  for neglecting the duty of regulating, supervising and protecting the wetlands which has led to degradation.
He said NEMA has failed to follow up on what the investors or companies licensed to do the work in wetlands are doing in the guise limited government funding.
Mr. Bwengye said NEMA gives authority to investors to carry out Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) on their own or hire a consultant on proposed projects in wetland and in the end; they (investors) do recommendations in their favor at the expense of environmental management.

“Almost all the wetlands in Kampala have been degraded. Government doesn’t want an investor or individual not to build or carry out activity in the wetland but it goes ahead to allow them to find out the impacts of the project on the environment on their own. This is why many projects end up degrading the ecosystems because the recommendations are done to favor the interests of the investor and the government doesn’t follow up,” he noted

He added, “Even some illegal activities in the wetlands are carried out with protection from environmental police or as regulatory authority look on.”

Bwengye said the government should undertake the role of carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments and ensure vigilant supervision if sustainability of wetlands is to be achieved.

While appearing on local TV recently, Mr. Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director said activities carried out in wetlands like sand mining in Lwera wetland in Kalungu district are likely to cause flooding and degrade Lake Victoria.

“Wetlands act as natural sponges absorbing and storing excess water hence reducing flooding” he said.

He called upon government to step up efforts of protecting wetlands, restore degraded wetlands and enforce the laws put I place to protect them.
On 2nd February, Uganda joined the rest of the world to Commemorate World Environment day under the theme, “Wetlands for sustainable urban future”.

Story compiled by Precious Naturinda

Farmers in Buliisa District attribute poor crop yields to ‘modern seeds’

Farmers in Ngwedo sub-county in Buliisa District are grappling with poor crop yields that they attribute to seeds distributed by government through the Operation Wealth Creation, OWC.

The crops include Cassava, maize, Bananas, beans and other local crops that they say decay right from the time of germination till harvest.

The farmers say the indigenous seeds do produce better yields as opposed to those that are distributed by government. They allege that the seeds distributed by government often rot and are incompatible with their soils.

Atugonza Teopista a cassava farmer from Ngwedo listeners club says all her crops rot from the garden despite her practicing crop rotation.

“We were helped by NAPE situated in Kakindo who gave us indigenous seeds that yielded well in my acre of cassava farm but since then OWC seeds don’t help me”, Ms. Atugonza explained to Community Green Radio.

Stanley Kamanyire is appealing to Government engage the community on how to arrest the situation.

“I wish Government tells us exactly what is affecting our cassava, maize and beans so that we know the solution than making us doubt.  We should be able to know if the problem is with seeds, soil or climatic factors “, Mr. Kamanyire narrated.

Buliisa district production officer Kaahwa Robert admits that crops have been rotting. He however asserts that other factors like soil can cause crop rust or decay due to too much alkalinity in the soil.

“The seeds we distribute to farmers are purely improved, disease resistant which suits high crop yields other than decayed seeds unless they mix our improved seeds with those that have spent long time before planting . “Kaahwa exclaimed.

National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE, through its Food Security and Sovereignty Campaign stirs healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods, inspires small holder farmers in communities, and trains them on how to gather/revive indigenous seeds, plant them, store them and select some for replanting.

In 2016, Buliisa district was hit by the Cassava brown streak virus that left cassava tubers brown inside. The virus is believed to have spread after introduction of improved varieties in the area.

The Cassava brown streak virus spreads through propagating infected cassava cuttings in the field.

Compiled by Dorcus Drijaru