Opinions

WE NEED TRANSPARENCY IN VACATING PEOPLE IN WETLANDS

By Guest Writer

Everyday media reports about demolition of buildings and destruction of rice in wetlands across the country.

With the increasing encroachment on wetlands by human activities, the country has lost more than 30% of its wetland cover.

This has called off the environmental implementation directives that have seen the authority like NEMA and district leaders to force people in wetlands to leave using all means.

With increasing climatic changes that has resulted into constant droughts, it’s high time that the government tightens the implementations and vacate all people encroaching on wetlands without segregation.

In July 2021, the government of Uganda banned growing of rice and other crops in wetlands across the country in a resolution that was passed by president of Uganda and communicated by the state minister for environment Ms. Beatrice Anywar, the government said the move is aimed at restoring environment across the country.

In February 2022, the president warned against encroachers on wetlands saying the government will cancel their tittles.

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In his voice the president told encroachers that they will lose their money and shall not be compensated and the tittles will be cancelled.

Since then, we have seen quick response done by NEMA and other Authorities to vacate rice growers from the wetlands but the approach seems to be so unhuman. For example what happened in Lira district in Okole wetland where the RDC supervised the slashing of 30 acres of rice that was soon reaching maturity was unhuman.

With the increasing hunger levels in the country, this wasn’t good approach, the concerned parties would have been warned to harvest and vacate instead of destroying the already planted crops.

To my opinion the government is doing well in response to environmental destruction but the response is inhuman and selective. The enforcement is seen being done to only local people leaving the big investors to carry out their activities uninterrupted in wetlands.

For example rice growing in Lwera along Masaka road where the wetland was cleared for rice growing and there is no intervention from the Authorities, the industries that are in Wetlands no one is demolishing any like as we have seen houses being demolished along river Mpamba in Fort Portal, and many hotels for big people that are constructed in wetlands, this tells us that the implementation of guidelines is selective and is targeting only local people who are poor.

This is a bad approach we need equality in implementing these directives, the law shouldn’t be selective, all people in wetlands should vacate no matter the size, position, colour and religion because  climatic changes are not selective and they affect all of us.

Finally I call upon NEMA to be responsible for all the demolitions taking place because we have seen it denying reports on destruction of rice in Otuke district swamp that means many people are in operation which will make rise of crimes and some peoples properties may be destroyed with no reason.

The implementation should be non-selective and all housing in wetlands including factories should be demolished to save our environment.

It’s our individual responsibility to protect these wetlands and if we don’t change the behaviour, nature will change us itself and impact will be huge.

The writer is Gerald Barekye {geraldbarekye@gmail.com}, Research Associate.

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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