By Guest Writer

As Uganda is preparing for her first oil drop in 2025, there is need to conserve and protect the environment from oil spills, and other oil dangers.

It’s important to note that since oil has been discovered in Uganda, most of the trees have been cut down, land evictions, grabs, displacement of people, loss of biodiversity, human wild animal conflicts, among others have been our day to day challenges.

All these have led to increased climate change impacts such as drought, floods, desertification, and food insecurity hence leading to increased death of people in the communities. In addition, it’s important to note that extractive sectors especially oil and gas has contributed a lot to the destruction of the environment and lose of the green economy.

As we prepare for COP27 which will take place in Egypt, environmental activists, oil companies, private and public sectors, civil society organizations should be involved to discuss the strategies, dialogues on how to protect the environment from oil curse.

As environmentalists, we need to find ways on how to conserve and protect the environment from destruction especially from air and plastic pollution from companies, plastics , buveera ,  among others.

Furthermore, in 2008, the National Oil and Gas Policy was formed , and  in the subsequent years, the country’s laws were updated to address Environmental, Social and Governance issues, new laws were put in place  to address key issues such as petroleum waste management, climate change, and oil spills have also been enacted but it’s very unfortunate that even amidst the enactment of new laws, these laws are in place but there are in effective and that’s why our environment is continuously being destructed.

According to Environmental Social Assessment (ESA), Regulation 21 (4) provides that “The Authority or the technical committee on environmental and social assessment in respect of a project by the Authority, shall, during consideration of the environmental and social impact statement under this regulation, determine whether a public hearing is necessary.”

This regulation gives NEMA discretionary powers to determine whether public hearings for projects are necessary. This power could be abused. Already, in 2020, NEMA failed to organise public hearings on Hoima Sugar Ltd’s Kyangwali Mixed Land Use project in Bugoma forest. This is despite the project being controversial and being located in an environmentally-sensitive area. This has left the affected communities without any consultations.

More so, Several frameworks have been put in place to facilitate the monitoring and management of environmental and social aspects such as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the oil and gas activities in the Albertine Graben which was undertaken between 2010 and 2013 and approved by Cabinet in July 2015. But these frameworks are also ineffective and so our environment is in greater danger.

In my opinion, the government and other relevant agencies should make sure that the good laws that are in place to protect our environment from extractive activities should be respected and enforced, government officials should intervene and stop the companies from dumping contaminated water into the wetland.

More so, the management of the factories to stop draining polluted water into the stream to protect water for the fish, animals and people at the same. The government should also gazette land around historical sites as a strategy for preserving and protecting Uganda’s cultural heritage to increase on the revenue from tourism. There is also need to use 3R’s to reduce on the air and plastic pollution. These include, Reuse, Recycle and reduce.

More to that , companies should stop  pouring dirty water into a nearby stream and trench especially Sino Minerals Investments, a company mining Iron ore in Buhara sub-county, Kabale district, stop dumping residues into  wetlands because they  put resident lives , wild  and domestic animals  in danger and at the same time  putting environment at the stake.

Lastly, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) should  draft the ordinance to preserve and protect historical monuments , forests, nature and objects of archaeology and traditional interests so that the ordinance is  intended to protect and preserve historical buildings in Kampala , environment and nature for the promotion of both cultural and tourism purposes.

For God and my Country

The author is Ireen Twongirwe the Executive Director Women for Green Economy Movement Uganda {WoGEM}

Disclaimer: We as UG Reports Media LTD we welcome any opinion by any one if it’s of a constructive use to the Development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not of UG Reports Media LTD but for the author of the article.

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