By Guest Writer

Last week I went in Ntungamo district as I was entering the town smoke welcomed me from the charcoal burners at Ntungamo sub county headquarters where by about 2acres of forest have been cut off and the whole place is bare.

It’s not only this forest in the district that has been cut but also many others across the district including tress in the district premises. It should be noted that in March 2022 Ntungamo district was selected to be among the beneficiaries of 237.7b to mitigate climate change in Uganda due to massive forest destruction in the area.

The current environmental destruction in the country beats my understanding and I ask myself if we still have responsible authorities to monitor and protect our environment from this massive destruction that is happening.

Of Recent  the ministry of environment suspended all business established in Eco sensitive areas that included forests ,wetlands ,lakes etc., However people have continue to practice farming in wetlands with growing rice and animal rearing which is putting the environment at risk and leading to  the climate changes we are experiencing today.

Notably many wetlands in Uganda have been encroached on for human activities and industrialization but there seems no response from authorities and this can best be explained by continued destruction of wetlands to grow rice and other activities.

The lwera wetland on masaka highway has been reclaimed to grow rice, same as imporogoma wetland in sub regions of Busoga and Bukedi.

Additionally, forests too have not been spared as Bugoma forest in Hoima and lutooboka forest reserve in Kalangala district have been almost depleted. Furthemore the destruction of kangomba forest reserve in kagadi district is an indication that more enforcement is needed.

Uganda’s wetland coverage has been reduced from 17.5 percent in the 1990 to the current 8.5 percent while the forest cover has been dropped from 24% to 12%.With such figure ,our country is in digger of climate change crisis that quickly needs to be resolved .

Currently the environment is being destroyed across the country and the concerned authorities are not taking action.

The government has continued to issue permits for investors to practice farming and establish factories in wetlands, forests and other ecosystem protected areas, could we say that the government is not aware of climate change crisis? Many people have been arrested and no charges opened against them as this is evidenced by the continued operation of business and farming activities in Eco sensitive areas.

It should be noted that section 32, (4) of National forestry and planting Act of 2003 and section 36 of national forestry and planning regulation (NFTPR) 2016 prohibits any dealing in reserved tree species without permission from the line ministry or relevant authority and now my worry is if these encroachers have been permitted to do so then where are we heading as country if the whole environment is destroyed and wildlife extricated and water reservoirs dry out?

The recent international energy agency global roadmap to net zero by 2050 shows that the worlds demand for oil will need to decline from more than 90m barrels a day to less than 25m by 250.This will result into 75% plunge in net revenue for oil producing economies which are dominated by public sector that rely on energy exports for revenue .Such target can’t be reached with this increasing deforestation rates in Uganda for charcoal production that increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The minister of environment and national environmental management authority and other agencies have to swing into action and change the way the country is behaving towards climate changes.

The government should put huge investment in clean energy with emphasis on solar energy that is free and sustainable to reduce on increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the cities and many agencies should monitor and arrest all people that engage in environmental destruction activities, more funding should also be allocated to NEMA to strengthen enforcement on those practicing deforestation and farming in protected areas.

Finally all stakeholders have to understand that the future is up to us,so everyone has to come into action no matter the age ,position and size to join hands together for better planet earth for our current generation and future generation .

For God and My Country

The author is Gerald Barekye {geraldbarekye@gmail.com} Research Associate at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

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