By Paul Kato
Since 2016, most of the biggest wetlands like Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kafu and Nguse among others in the Bunyoro Sub-region have been encroached on by the likes of Hoima Sugar Limited and out-growers to pave away for sugarcane growing.
Charcoal and timber dealers are cutting down trees while oil activities especially East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project are expected to pass through wetlands like Kafu, Wambabya and others.
There is enough evidence to show that wetlands continue to be threatened by oil activities and human activities. Putting these critical ecosystems under threat is likely to contribute to gas emissions. This will result in human health problems.
Recently, Hoima Municipality became an (oil) city meaning that more wetlands are going to be cleared in favour of expanding the city and the development of the oil industries in the area. All these are likely to cause more air pollution and more destruction of wetlands in the area.
Uganda should know that currently, air pollution is exceeding the World Health Organization Limit before even the production of the first oil and the development of industries in the newly created cities.
These emissions are likely not to reduce because of the massive developments expected from the oil industry and the newly created cities in the country.
A lot of oil emissions during oil mining and air pollution resulting from oil industries, motorized transport among others are likely to increase therefore we need to conserve critical ecosystems in the Albertine region which will help in absorbing of the oil emission and air pollution from the industries hence reducing on the health problem.
Therefore, I call upon the government institutions like the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority (NFA), newly elected leaders, environmental police among others to lay out the strategies that are going to reduce the oil emissions during oil mining, air pollution from industries and protection of the sensitive ecosystems from oil activities and human activities.
Paul Kato is a Research Associate at Africa Institute for energy governance (AFIEGO)
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