The government should therefore ensure the following before demarcating the wetlands:

By Guest Writer

OPINION: First and foremost, I want to thank the government for the good work they are doing concerning wetland concerns, but it should always involve the community in the initial plans for demarcating the wetlands.

Editor, On June 29th this year, the Daily Monitor reported that the government asked the residents of Aperkirasub county in Kaberamaido district who have encroached on wetlands to voluntarily leave the wetlands or face eviction.

While the government is doing so, it should also look into the Isingiro wetland disputes. It is noted that on June 18, 2023, the media reported that the Ministry of Water and Environment wanted to demarcate the Rasuusa wetland, which covers the three sub-counties of Rugaga, Rushasha, and Rugaga town council in Bukanga county.

It is said that the encroachers have already destroyed over 21 kilometers of the wetlands by cultivating them, and the locals are resisting the wetland demarcation exercise because the Ministry of Water and Environment did not sensitize them about the process of the demarcation. The government should therefore ensure the following before demarcating the wetlands:

The government should sensitize and conduct awareness campaigns through community radios, social media, and local newspapers before the demarcations to disseminate information and sensitize the public about the ecological importance of wetlands, their benefits, and the necessity of demarcation.

Engaging the local community fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for the wetlands. The government can build trust, encourage community participation, and gain support for the demarcation process, resulting in better compliance with regulations and long-term sustainability of the wetland management effort.

Furthermore, the government should organize public meetings, workshops, and focus group discussions to seek input and address concerns from the local community. Involving locals in the initial plans for demarcating wetlands is crucial because people living in proximity to wetlands often possess valuable knowledge about the area, including historical significance, which ensures the locals that their expertise is considered contributing to a more comprehensive and effective demarcation plan.

In addition to the above, the government should carry out our wetland mapping exercises and give the locals a chance to contribute their knowledge about the wetland’s boundaries, ecological features, and land use patterns.

This helps locals identify all relevant stakeholders, including landowners, farmers, fishermen, and businesses in the area, because the stakeholders have a direct or indirect dependence on the wetlands and should be consulted to understand their interests, concerns, and needs.

This can enable the government to develop more inclusive and balanced demarcation plans that consider the livelihoods and socioeconomic aspects of the Rasuusa people in Isingiro district.

Lastly, the government should carry out training programs and educational initiatives to sensitize and enhance the locals’ understanding of wetland conservation, sustainable practices, and the benefits of preserving ecosystems.

This can empower the community to actively participate in the long-term management and protection of the wetlands without any resistance from the demarcation exercises.

The author is Olive Atuhaire, Ndejje University

Disclaimer: As UG Reports Media LTD, we welcome any opinion from anyone if it’s constructive for the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not those of UG Reports Media Ltd. but of the author of the article.

Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please send it to this email: theugreports@gmail.com.

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