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Protecting Environment Is A Matter Of Life And Death, Says Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni emphasized that protecting the environment is a matter of life and death for humanity cautioning that ‘we must do all it takes to protect the environment lest we perish.’ The president was speaking as guest of honor during World Environment Day celebrations in Ibanda District on Monday.

“All those interfering with nature are doing a great disservice to themselves and will ultimately pay a heavy price. God created for us a wonderful environment to live in but by degrading it, we are going against his will. Water is our life and we should not interfere with anything to do with water or the environment.

“We have not had enough rains for the last two seasons in Uganda and experts attribute it to the attack on the environment by people who invaded wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers that contribute 40% of the rains we get and we can’t go on like that,” he added.

The President, therefore, said that government is soon amending and strengthening the environment protection law to ensure that nobody should do any activity in a radius of 50 meters from a river bank, 200 meters from a lake shore and advised all people living or practicing agriculture in wetlands and forestry reserves, to leave them peacefully.

Important for tourism

Museveni further said that protecting the environment is also important for tourism noting that the sector earns the country much more foreign exchange than most economic activities the country is engaged in.

The President, who described the environment as the genetic bank, appealed to all citizens of Uganda to prioritize environmental protection for the good of the current and future generations. He emphasized that they ought treat whoever is attacking the environment as their number one enemy.

Rain catchment areas

The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, said that wetlands, forests and water bodies are important rain catchment areas and that whoever attacked them in a country like Uganda that is largely agricultural and dependent on rainfall, must be resisted.

On behalf of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program Country Director, Ms. Rosa Malanga, said that humanity must find ways of connecting with nature, protect it, respect it and safeguard the world heritage. She commended Uganda for being one of the few countries that have put in place a legal framework to protect the environment.

The French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms. Stephanie Rivoal, noted that humanity shares the same planet and there must be a collective duty to protect it selfishly for the sake of the future generations.

She said that the planet belongs to nobody but to everybody and it is, therefore, a duty of everybody to ensure that it is safe for humanity. She appealed to developed countries who contributed greatly to climate change to take a leading role in mitigating the causes of climate change.

Environmentalists Run For Trees In Ibanda

On Sunday, 4th June, thousands of environment protectionists thronged Ibanda, western Uganda, to take part in The 2017 Environment Run which was a precursor to Monday’s World Environment Day celebrations. This year's World Environment Day theme is "Connect with Nature".

The 2017 Environment Run, under the theme ‘Run for Trees’ was organized by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, Eskom Uganda, Hima Cement among other partners. It attracted all calibers of participants who also planted trees as a gesture of their commitment to protect the environment.  

State Minister for Environment Hon Kitutu Kimono, on Thursday flagged off the World Environment Day Celebration Caravan at the NEMA offices in Kampala. The team carried out a number of activities which included planting trees in schools and various other strategic locations. The ‘caravan’ cleaned Ibanda town on Saturday a day before the historic Sunday run.

The caravan was embraced by NEMA officials, the Woman Member of Parliament (MP) for    Ibanda Hon Jovin Kaliisa and other district officials, a team from Uganda Little Hands Go Green led by CEO Joseph Masembe, pupils and student from different schools and the local people. The activities created awareness and set a precedent. 

“A wise man will always plant a tree whose shade he knows he will never sit under,” Joseph Masembe explained why it is important for people to plant trees and ensure a humane environment in the future.

“We owe it to our children and grand children to deliver to them a green inheritance.” He added, emphasizing the need to protect the environment because the future needs a habitable environment. Uganda joins the world on Monday to commemorate World Environment Day.

Photos: Little Hands Go Green, NEMA Set Pace For Environment Day Celebrations

This year’s environment day celebrations have picked momentum in Ibanda district, Western Uganda. This year's World Environment Day theme is "Connect with Nature". Environment concerns are getting global attention with a motive to protect Mother Nature.

State Minister for Environment Hon Kitutu Kimono, the Executive Director (ED) of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Woman Member of Parliament (MP) for    Ibanda Hon Jovin  Kaliisa and the CEO Little Hands Go Green Joseph Masembe flagged off the World Environment Day Celebration Caravan at the NEMA offices in Kampala.

The team that set off on Thursday, including school children, planted trees in different areas on their way to Ibanda as part of the drive to create climate change awareness. The team has planted trees in Mpigi, and Buwama and Nkozi enroute to Ibanda. Various schools have joined the noble cause.

Below in pictures we bring you highlights some from different activities being undertaken by stakeholders ahead of environment day celebrations on 5th June.

NFA Under Fire Over Illegal Logging In Bugoma Forest

By George Busiinge

The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has come under fire from the communities neighboring Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district for abetting illegal lumbering. Residents accuse NFA officials for laxity, which has fueled the illegal timber trade and charcoal burning within the forest. 

They expressed their concern during a two day collaborative meeting organized by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) held at Kabwoya sub county headquarters  in Hoima.  Annet Agaba, a tree planting coordinator for Kidoma Conservation Development Association told the meeting that NFA officials don't respond to calls when residents notify them about the activities of illegal loggers. 

She explains that when the Community Forest Management groups entered partnership with NFA, the Bugoma forest was in a very good shape, but the laxity of NFA officials has fueled lumbering. Charles Byamuleme, a resident of Kyangwali Sub County accuses NFA especially the forest supervisors and police personally deployed to guard the forest for conniving with illegal loggers to cut down trees. 

Stuart Maniraguha, the Budongo Range Manager, said the issue of illegal lumbering involves both residents and community members. 
He said they are strengthening partnerships with communities and other stakeholders to ensure the reserve is protected and free from illegal activities. 

Joan Akiza from National Association of Professional Environmentalists -NAPE called upon all the stakeholders to work together in order to prevent the cutting of timbers and charcool in Bugoma forest and promised total support as NAPE . 

 

Uganda’s Agriculture Can’t Thrive Beyond 1.5-Degree Global Warming

On Dec.12, 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change approved the Paris Agreement committing 195 nations of the world to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” The pact commits the world to adopt nationally determined policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions in accord with those goals.

The little landlocked, agricultural nation Uganda submitted it’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in late November 2015, succinctly indicating a 22% carbon cut by 2030, acknowledging the negative impacts global warming has on her economy severely in agricultural sector.

Dominated by small holder farmers of upto 80% and subsistence agriculture of 70% of farmers unable to access modern farming methods such as modern irrigation schemes, the country’s agricultural sector is, more than any other, the most sensitive to the current threats of rising global average temperatures that has alarmed to surpass the benchmark of 1.5-degree Celsius over time.

The 2°C goal set by Paris delegates represents a temperature increase from a pre-industrial baseline that scientists believe will maintain the relatively stable climate conditions that humans and other species have adapted to over the previous 12,000 years. If this temperature range surpassed, dangerous tipping point would have been crossed.

The tipping point represent dire consequences with changing face of natural order of the planet, even worse in the agricultural performance a poor country.

The signs of this dangerous tipping point are already visible in infesting crop diseases, seasonal animal deaths, water shortages for cattle and hindrance of farming activities because of too dry grounds to cultivate. Uganda has been listed among the countries affected by the mass animal deaths for 2017.

Bird flu is ravaging poultry husbandry.  Since January 02, signs of bird flu were detected in Uganda where fishermen reported “mass death of wild birds” on the shores of Lake Victoria, near Entebbe, which lies near the capital Kampala.

The epidemic has also evaporated to neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi. The director in charge of animal health in the Burundian ministry of agriculture and livestock, Mr. Nsanganiyumwami Déogratias says they are aware of the presence of the disease in East African Community since Monday 16th January 2017. “We held a meeting with the minister and competent experts to impose measures to protect people against any contamination”, he says. 

While the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has studied that between 5000 and 7000 heads of cattle have died due to lack of water in the Karamoja and Turkana regions pastoralists regions of East Africa combined.

Since October 2016, livestock in Isingiro and Kiruhura districts are dying due to starvation following prolonged drought in the area. The two neighbouring districts have traditionally been hit by drought, but Dr Bruhan Kasozi, the Isingiro veterinary officer, says the scarcity of water and pasture he has witnessed was the worst in the 17 years he has worked in the area.

The effect of a warming planet will deeply penetrate sub-Saharan Africa because this region is over dependent on agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone, declares Uganda’s government. But it’s also not shy to say this sector dependent on weather and we know weather on climate.

This agriculture-weather-climate bond “cannot be broken easily,” cries Hon. Lawrence Songa, the head of climate change department at the Uganda’s ministry of Water and Environment.

“It can only be broken through two efforts,” he says in a slightly altered statement. “One: by ensuring that the global temperature increase is kept at bay, and two: by mechanizing agriculture to stop over dependence on the weather.

Truly if agriculture and weather is joined at the hip, then Uganda’s development prospect heavily leans on the mercy of climate. Any slight increase of global temperatures doesn’t only disorganise the biosphere but ruins 85% of the population who directly derive their livelihood in crop and or animal rearing.

The Uganda’s worshiped development agenda termed “Vision 2040” clarifies the chief development goal as “a Transformed Ugandan Society from a Peasant to a commercialised farming.” Yet the current picture paints a climate-change-stricken sector. Agriculture is on the decline due.

According to Paris Agreement, “keeping global average temperatures to 2.0-degree Celsius will minimize some of the worst impacts of climate change: drought, heat waves, heavy rain and flooding, and sea level rise. Limiting the global surface temperature increase to 1.5°C would lessen these impacts even further.”

Uganda is Africa’s leading exporter and second biggest producer of coffee after Ethiopia due to its alluvial fertile soils and cool “good” climate for coffee production. But the changes in average daily temperatures are hindering these treasures. In 2016, 4.8 million bags were produced which was noticed as an increase due to mere increase of acreage of coffee plantations. 

With over 70% of its foreign exchange from coffee exports, any future tampering with weather and climate will adversely affect the economy.

Analysis of data from Uganda Coffee Development Center already shows that coffee exports have declined in “real terms” since 1998. This drop in crop performance Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) blames on coffee wilt that mainly affects the native, lowland robusta-heat sensitive-variety.

Yet the country is not free from coffee berry disease that entered from its eastern neighbour Kenya as early as the 1920s. Since 1993, it has destroyed over 12 million plants. Uganda also grows arabica coffee, which is grown in the highlands. So far, this has remained unaffected by the disease.

The major reason for the infestation of this coffee disease is because it thrives under high temperatures of between 26 to 40-degree Celsius, a now characteristic temperature of Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Ugandan Metrological Department (UMD).

1.5 and 2°C are not hard and fast limits beyond which disaster is imminent, but they are now the milestones by which the world measures all progress toward slowing global warming.

February 2016 exceeded the 1.5°C target at 1.55°C, marking the first time the global average temperature has surpassed the sobering milestone in any month. March followed suit checking in at 1.5°C. January’s mark of 1.4°C, put the global average temperature change from early industrial levels for the first three months of 2016 at 1.48°C.

It is thus irrefutable that the only hope for Uganda’s Agricultural sector is if the global average temperature is kept below the 1.5-degrree Celsius mark. Continuing to firefight with sweltering drudgery farming responsibilities without digging the problems from the roots is a stark chasing the rainbow.

Keeping at 1.5-degree require not one action or sets of action from one big polluter like China, or US but a marriage of actions that curb carbon emissions from all over the world, under the auspices of the 1.5-degree UNFCCC Paris pact we already entered.

 

 

By Boaz Opio

   

Demand For Environmental Health Experts Increasing, Says University Dean

The dean Faculty of health sciences, Victoria University, Dr. Krishna N. Sharma has warned that humans need to leave in a health environment but the availability of environmental health experts is not correlating with the increasing demand. 

Dr. Sharma who recently the high rising Victoria University located on Jinja road in Kampala city described environment health as a human need which must be preserved by experts in that field because ‘we don’t have a choice’.

“No matter who we are, the fact is that we all have to live in an environment. As far as we are alive, whatever we touch, breath, eat or drink may bring us trouble. So a healthy environment is our need. We don’t have a choice.  Here come the environmental health experts,”

To fill up the gap, Victoria University under the Faculty of health sciences is offering degree like a Bachelor of environmental Health Sciences that provides fundamental knowledge of environment health. The degree course puts emphasis on the control of major environmental health problems such as water supply, waste disposal, food hygiene, occupational health, air pollution and other environmental aspects.

Dr. Sharma says the application of environmental of environmental health knowledge, principles and methods is vital for the health and safety of the population in the world. The university says environmental health is a principal area of study in the field of public health.

Environmental health scientists, according to Dr. Sharma, work on assessing, managing, controlling and preventing environmental risks through research, advocacy and intervention at community, national and global level. Bachelor of environmental Health Sciences is a three year course.

“The demand for environmental health experts is increasing at the speed of development and urbanization due to the increase in health threats that come with urbanization,” Dr Sharma, who is in charge of the line faculty, said.

“At this time, more than 54% of the world population lives in urban areas.  In fact even in Uganda, the level of urbanization last year was 18% and it might increase to 30% by 2030. It is estimated that about 50% of the total Ugandan population will be living in urban areas by 2050.

So if you look at these statistics, you will get a broader picture and understand how the demand for environmental health experts is increasing rapidly and how brighter the career in this field is.” He adds.

Dr Sharma, a renowned academician, celebrity physiotherapist and prolific author says Victoria University is going to work a lot on research and publications. “We are upgrading the teaching methodology with the latest schools of thoughts in pedagogy. We will focus on the fruitful research… the research that will bring positive change in Uganda and abroad. 

This year we will have our own journal and publication so once the students graduate from here, they will already have their published research paper and book. These will give an added value and recognition to them. Apart from this, we are going to move towards online education through our e-academy. We are planning to offer many free courses too as a part of our corporate social responsibility.

KISU To Host 4th Children’s Climate Change Conference

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and My Kid is A Superstar have announced that this year’s International Children’s Climate Change Conference will be hosted by Kampala International School Kampala (KISU) which is located in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb, on 22nd April, 2017.

Joseph Masembe the CEO of Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, a civil society organization that advocates for environment conservation, said during a press conference at KISU that 300 child delegates from 40 schools including 4 international schools from Rwanda will meet at the conference being organized under the theme ‘environmental and climate literacy’.

“These children will be representing different nationalities and will discuss and debate environmental issues. Each school will be given time to present its thoughts on the theme of the conference,” Masembe told journalists on Tuesday morning.

The conference will give a platform for children to air out their views on climate change, promote environment conservation among children, showcase efforts children are putting in the climate change fight among other efforts dedicated to environmental conservation.

Steve Lang, School Director KISU expressed delight being part of the conference emphasizing that radical and concerted effort is required to promote environmental conservation through education and mobilizing the next generation.

“That, to me, is what this conference is all about, and why we are so pleased to be hosting it.” Lang noted. The conference is supported by KISU, earth day network, NBS Television, Kampala Capital City Authority and Rwanda Little Hands Go Green.  

The International Children’s Climate Change conference will take place on World Earth Day April 22nd.  A delegation from Rwanda's Mother Mary School, Little Bears Montessori and Hope Academy will be accompanied by patrons from the schools as well as officials from Rwanda's Little Hands Go Green, REMA, parents and Q sourcing Rwanda.

Children To Discuss Environmental And Climate Literacy At Conference

Uganda Little Hands go Green and My Kid is a Superstar together with partners are organized the 4th International Children’s Climate Change Conference. This year, the annual one day conference will be hosted by Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) on Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Organisers of conference say they are expecting to bring together 300 child delegates from over 40 schools, different nationalities and backgrounds and representing different countries across the globe. The theme of the conference which aims at encouraging children to preserve the environment will run under the theme ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy’.

Minister Frank Tumwebaze helps pupils plant a tree to launch activities of the conference in 2015

The conference which also seeks to empower youngsters with enough knowledge about the environment and climate change coincides with the global celebration of World Earth Day.

“We have serious challenges regarding climate change, unsustainable use of natural resources, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, forests and farmland. Not to mention the huge inequality still prevailing in several parts of the planet,” an official from Little Hands Go Green said in a statement emphasizing that climate change is a very real threat to economy and a threat to ‘the future of our children, to our way of life’.

Joseph Masembe welcoming Pius Bigirimana, and Irish Ambassador to Uganda Dónal Cronin to a previous conference

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green has a mission to inspire a patriotic nationwide culture of “Our Environment is Our Future and Our Future is Our responsibility” by creating a mass hysteria of tree planting by children both at school and at home.

“What we are about is sowing the seeds of environmental propriety in the children and teaching them that owning up to and taking care of their environment is their responsibility,” Joseph Masembe said in an email interview.

Pupils take part in a play at one of the previous conferences

“We seek to assign responsibility of ensuring a Green future for all on the children because the future belongs to them. We have pioneered a new wave of change where we are making environmental conservation education cool for kids.

It is not in the National education curriculum so we are creating an extracurricular segment for environmental conservation education by driving children to each plant at least a fruit tree in their homes or wherever they can,” he explained.

 

Bunyoro Kingdom Rolls Mass Tree Planting Sensitization

By George Busiinge
Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom has embarked on a massive tree planting campaign as one of the measures to mitigate the likely effects oil and gas production will have on the environment.The Kingdom Premier, Norman Lukumu, says the Kingdom parliament resolved to roll out the massive tree planting campaign following the dry spell that has affected the area.

According to Lukumu, they have teamed up with two unnamed Non-Governmental Organisation to distribute free tree seedlings to the Kingdom subjects for planting.He says the seedlings will be distributed at various events such as burials,village meetings and at the sub-counties using sub-countychiefs and kingdom subjects.

Lukumu also says they are also encouraging each family to plant atleast five trees for each newly born baby, adding that this will encourage the young generation to conserve the environment.

He added that they are also going to take this sensitization to all schools in Bunyoro so that they can also help in conserving the environment. Information from Bunyoro Kingdom shows that most of the tree species in forest reserves like Bugoma were imported from northern Tanzania and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by kings especially Kabalega for herbal medicine among other uses.

Let’s Adopt Concept Of Ecosystem Valuation To Fight Climate Change

Recently, the media has reported how climate change has continued to be one major threat to development in the country with water, agriculture and electricity sectors being the worst hit. At the moment, farmers mercilessly watch their crops dry prematurely in gardens as herdsmen helplessly watch their livestock die out of starvation while electricity generation companies also continue to produce below normal capacity, all these are resulting into loss of livelihoods and economic prospects for the country.  

As people continue to wonder how these impacts remain a major threat to their livelihoods and threatening the stability of the economy, it is important for everyone to reflect on the key drivers to these challenges and find amicable solutions to them.

For instance the environment for which life on earth depends on is a complex structure that works in uniformity in a manner that when one part is destroyed, the entire process is affected. If we can appreciate the facts, one would urge that humans are primarily responsible for the environmental challenges we are facing today, resulting form over exploitation on the environmental services without attaching any economic value to it. 

For instance, according to Uganda’s state of environment report 2014, the rate at which industries are mushrooming in various parts of the country without proper physical plans are mostly destroying the wetlands and forestry land. These effects have direct effects on the natural hydrological cycle responsible for rain formation and balancing of temperature.

Further, the constant displacement of people to pave way for development coupled with population pressure is now pushing communities deeper into protected areas as they search for alternative land for settlement land, these results into forest degradation. The 2014 population results estimated Uganda’s population at 35 million with a growth rate of 3.3 per annum

As challenges of climate change continue to sting on us and dig deep into our budgets, it’s important for local communities start attaching economic value to ecosystems services as a means to guide their decisions on whether to exploit the resource on conserve it.

Ecosystem valuation is the process by which policy or decision makers attach monetary value to an environmental resources or to the outputs and services provided by those resources to the public. For instance, a mountain forest may provide environmental services by preventing downstream flooding or absorb carbondioxide that would damage the atmosphere, so the value attached to the mountain forest can be evaluated according to the amount of money saved from the devastating impacts of floods on people or control amount of greenhouse gasses exposed to the atmosphere respectively.

As much as conservationist have often urged that is not reasonable to attach monetary value to nature, it’s a widely accepted concept meant to offer guidance in coming up with decision that have direct effect on environment.

Therefore it’s important for Civil Society Organizations sensitizing local communities who are the primary users of ecosystem services to attach value and conserve them.

While government should work with all her line institutions to ensure that rights legislation and polices are in place to promote the adoption of Ecosystem Valuation in development so as to enable the dreams of achieving Uganda Vision 2040 a reality. 

 

By Samuel Okulony

Programs and Research Coordinator

Environmentalist

Africa Institute for Energy Governance

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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