This is currently happening in Uganda, and worse is to come if action is not taken to rejuvenate the environment.

By Guest Writer

OPINION: While celebrating Labor Day with jubilation and band sounds blasting from the Namutumba district headquarters, Uganda also experienced the worst environmental calamities, which claimed lives and destroyed property all over the country.

The effects of climate change are real and serious; they range from heavy rains to rising water levels and prolonged dry seasons. However, the impacts are the most severe, resulting in loss of lives and property damage.

This is currently happening in Uganda, and worse is to come if action is not taken to rejuvenate the environment.

On the news, there have been floods and rises in water levels in different parts of the country resulting from the heavy rains that have been rampant lately. On April 24, one person died and three were reported missing after flooding from the overflowing Muhokya River in Muhokya Sub-county in Kasese District.

The Kyanzutsu and Nyamwamba rivers also broke their banks around this time, damaging homes and property in Mahango and Kyanjuki. The Uganda Red Cross reported that 1 person died and 2 were injured after a landslide in Bughendero in Buhurira Sub-county in Kasese District on May 1, 2023.

In Mbale District, one person died and several homes were damaged after floods in Bushikori Parish on April 26, 2023. Three people died after flooding from the Rushaya River in Bwambara Sub-county on April 29. On May 3, 2023, in Kamuwunga Village, located within the vast Lwera swamp, floods affected hundreds of households, and many were displaced after their houses got submerged in water.

In addition to all this, the Kabale-Kisoro Road has been temporarily closed following serious cracks in the road at Hamurwa, which have been caused by a landslide following a week of heavy rainfall.

It should be noted that this is the main and only road connecting Kabale and Kisoro, and one can question if it was really due to the heavy rainfall or the shady work of UNRA.

The causes of the impacts are not farfetched, but the usual sensitization and warning given against encroachment and degradation of the environment that the population has taken for granted, and if the customary practices of constructing and settling in wetlands, carrying out agriculture in catchment areas, and government bodies giving investors permits to do work in catchment areas continue, this is just the beginning of a worse reply from mother nature.

As Ugandans, we shouldn’t be shocked if nature starts claiming back what we have stolen from her.

These grievous floods have caused water pollution, and with the numerous human actions along these water sources, they have facilitated water contamination to a great degree. Industrial effluents and sewage are directly released into these rivers and lakes, increasing pollution; hence, in the near future, expect food insecurity to become an alarm within these areas due to the exploitation and exposure of marine life to these toxins.

In addition, the loss of inhabitants and property has left a lot of families without a place to sleep or a place to make a living and sustain their families, which is going to force them back into the same cycle of encroaching on wetlands and mountain slopes for shelter and engaging in agriculture in these endangered places for food to feed their families.

This degradation of the wetlands and mountainous areas will lead us back to the same situation.

Therefore, as citizens of Uganda, we demand the government and all relevant stakeholders do the following with immediate effect before the earth decides to take her own course of action.

  1. NEMA should cancel all the permits issued allowing developments within catchment areas.
  2. District leaders, take it upon yourselves to have each and every individual encroaching on lakes and river banks removed; if peace fails, then use force.
  3. President, we have relied on and cautioned government bodies long enough to be let down several times, so we directly argue to you to set direct orders canceling these illegal actions, take time to visit these endangered areas, and hold the authorities in charge accountable for their neglect.

The author is Babirye Jemimah Kasibbo, Advocacy Associate at Citizen Concern Africa.

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

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