Is Uganda Losing Its Pearl of Africa Spark?

Uganda was once named “the pearl of Africa” by Sir Winston Churchill. She was endowed with beautiful environment comprised of rainforests, woodlands and various species of fauna and flora that lent a bird’s eye view of the most beautiful-green area patched around Africa’s great lakes region. Due to the unforgiving impacts of global warming, today these appealing features are nothing but appalling historical facts to meditate over.

Where is the beauty anymore? What kind of woman is this that destroys her own attraction and what are the consequences upon her and her children? 

Remember that Uganda one time ranked first in the list of the most toured countries on the entire earth. It is probable that her fall is a consequence of enjoying foreign exchange gifts from the flourishing tourism with less effort to preserve her treasured micro climate.

Plague number one: the tourists have turned into NGO expatriates flocking in to attend various international environmental mourning ceremonies masquerading as workshops and fellowships.

Wretched villages no longer appealing to livelihoods; fields that no longer grow; stumps left of forests, saluting the hot of the sun, extreme weather conditions like strong winds that blow down people’s homes in addition to socio-economic dilemmas such as increased scarcity of wood-fuel and water shortages from prolonged dry spells.

Plague number two: October 2009, in the Eastern district of Bududa. Mudslide buries over 2000 people in 2 villages inhibiting the slopes of mountain Elgon, a tragedy that left over 3000 people destitute, homeless and bereaved.

The government was forced to declare a public holiday for Ugandans to mourn those who perished in the landslide. Climate Alert’s quickly casted the disaster to the “list of the deadliest mudslides of all times.”

The menace was linked to rampant deforestation of the steep slopes for wood-fuel production and farming space. When torrential rains resulting from the changing weather patterns hit the bare mountain slope, it fell apart upon the villages. 

National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) sent outcries to the public to conserve forests. The local watchdog had noticed the size of forest cover had declined over time in an alarming rate. It was estimated that there was an annual forest loss of 88,638 hectares per year from 1990-2005nationwide corresponding to pressure to provide livelihoods and economic benefits.

International watchdogs also barked. World Bank Group in partnership with Korea Green Growth Partnership published a 60 paged document, Promoting Green Urban Development in African Cities with critical concerns that Urban Africa has seriously lost much of its green vegetation.

Focusing on Uganda, former public spaces and parks in Kampala and other towns have been mysteriously converted into other urban uses such as erection of tall buildings.

Another plague was brought to light more recently during the Paris Climate summit. Moments of silence shifted to live images of the receding snowline at two summits of Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains: Margherita and Edward.

The images, beamed into the summit by a team of seasoned mountaineers on location atop the Rwenzori, helped cover the melting glaciers as a consequence of warming planet.

Among the images streamed through at the summit included an expanse of the mountains’ vegetation that was razed by a wild fire late 2014 that lasted almost a week, following a spell of close to a month without rainfall on the mountains that are also a UNESCO heritage site.

“The Rwenzoris are known to experience heavy rainfall at least twice every week, and long spells without rain on the mountains are a stark indicator of the effects of climate change,” says Tim Jarvis, the ambassador of World Wide Fund for Nature, Australia, and leader of the four-man crew of mountaineers who streamed live to the summit from the Rwenzoris.

This is the heavy price we are paying encroaching the nature. If we want a greener future for the generation to come, it is important we combat climate change from its roots. This would render cutting down all various fossil consumption of all sorts and focusing on renewable energy investment.  

A greener country and a brighter future will lean on the raptures of renewable energy miracles, a trance that will break the bondage of carbon dioxide karma, as a contribution to the united effort to achieve the major goal of an agreement reached last year in Paris—to stop climate change and keep the temperature increase below 1.5 degrees.

Such huge efforts to heal the country mean small, small contributions. Works will need to be focused activities like conservation and enhancement of forest landscapes, reclaiming waste lands hence restoring biodiversity; livelihoods, and economic opportunities which they support.

Doing, one of the most pertinent goals of Paris climate summit, “Pledging to create one new ecosystem for every ecosystem destroyed by climate change,” will be deliberately met to avoid more unknown plagues.

 

By Boaz Opio

 

 

 

Climate Risks: Pastoralists in Kenya Get US$77m From World Bank

The Government of Kenya last week launched Kenya’s component of the US$197m Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP). Over 93,000 households whose livelihoods rely mainly on pastoral activities in the 14 participating counties are expected to benefit directly from the project.

The RPLRP supported by the World Bank Group is designed to help the beneficiaries manage climate risks, develop coping mechanisms against drought and animal diseases that are frequently the bane of African pastoralists.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is contributing US$77 million for the Kenya component. Besides Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are participating, and 267,000 households are expected to benefit directly from the project in the three countries.

“Our main focus is on livestock, which we all know, is the single most important asset and the key source of food and income for pastoralists.” said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Pastoralists face unique challenges because they also live in the most under-resourced areas in Kenya, and this project will help mitigate some of them.”

The project aims to reduce the death rate of cattle by 30%; increase the value of livestock traded in selected project markets by 10%; reduce the number of livestock traded in drought years by about 8%; increase the number of livestock traded in normal years by about 6%, and to also halve the time lapse between early warning information and the response.

A vaccination campaign saw over 15,000 heads of cattle, 10,000 sheep and goats vaccinated during the launch which took place at Muwarak/Posta (PND) in Laikipia County. Major livestock routes converge in the PND area in search of pasture and water in times of drought, and as they head to Rumuruti livestock market. As a result, it is an area that is prone to livestock disease outbreaks.

“The focus on livestock corridors like in Laikipia is based on the reality that seasonal and cross-border movements are a crucial feature of pastoralist livelihoods and coping mechanisms against droughts and conflicts.” Philip Jespersen, Senior Social Development Specialist and Co-Task Team Leader for the project. “The ecosystems from which pastoralist derive their livelihoods often go beyond national borders and counties as do the market networks.”

Reaching the pastoral population and improving their livelihood resilience is key to achieving Kenya’s Vision 2030 and realizing the World Bank’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Why Polyethene Ban Is Failing To Work In Uganda

In the last ten years, the Ugandan government has been considering to ban polyethylene bags commonly known as kaveera of gauge below 30 microns used to carry mostly groceries albeit with little success as members of the private sector fight tooth and nail to save their businesses that benefit from the use of the environmentally unfriendly carriers.  

But in April 2015, despite numerous callous demonstration from members of private sector, including court battles, the Ministry of Water and Environment under National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) effected the ban on importation, manufacture and use of polythene bag of gauge below 30 microns.

The implementation however has not been a rosy one as affected businesses and other government agencies including cabinet fought the ban calling for its suspension. This back and forth has left the public in a state of indecision. Some traders stopped packing customer purchases in the kaveera while others continued to use the ban substance despite threats of legal action from NEMA.

And the Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris has blamed this inconsistency on the lack of sensitization and awareness about the dangers of the use of kaveera and the ban throughout the country. The minister says many people including those fighting the ban of kaveera don’t know the reasons why kaveera was being banned yet if they knew they would comply.

“The ban has not been successful because people don’t know the reason for the ban. We need to increase sensitization,” the minister said during his maiden visit to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) head office since taking over the ministry following his appointment in the new cabinet.

The minister advised NEMA, a government agency tasked with managing the country’s environment, to always make sure that when enforcing environment regulations people understood and appreciated the reasons for such actions.

The unwanted ban

The ban of kaveera took center stage during the Budget speech of 2009  before former finance minister Syda Bbumba and the then Environment Minister Maria Mutagambwa presented the proposal to cabinet and parliament before being famously halted following lobbying from traders and manufacturers of kaveera in the country.

The impasse dragged on as negotiation between environmentalists, government and traders hit dead ends all the time until April, 2015 when NEMA under the directive of the line ministry moved to implement the ban. The kaveera, according to advocates of the ban, is being banned because of its hazardous effect on the environment.

NEMA in a statement ahead of the ban last year said the economic, health and social costs of the continued use of kaveera outweighs the economic benefits derived from the production of kaveera and its cost is reflected in the increasing cost of malaria, reduced agricultural productivity and infrastructure repairs. The ban has however continued to get resistance across the country.

Kaveera and environment

According to www.academia.edu the accumulation of polyethylene waste in the soil will result in poor soil aeration and poor absorption of water and nutrients. They continue to say that polyethylene materials can increase soil temperature. Polyethylene products can last up to 1000 years in the soil inhibiting the breakdown of biodegradable materials around or in it and the other fear is that agricultural crops cannot grow where polyethylene products are because their roots cannot penetrate the soil for water, nutrient etc.

The website also explains that kaveera has negative impact on water because it can endanger the lives of water species like turtles, whales and sea birds who can mistake these polyethylene wastes for food or get entangled in it, resulting in painful injuries, or even death. Also marine plants and animals can be smothered by polyethylene plastic bags.  Marine debris which also include Polyethylene waste is unsightly and unwelcoming to beachgoers, which can result in lost revenue from tourism.

The negative impact of kaveera also extends to the atmosphere because when burnt polyethylene waste produces unpleasant and chocking smell, polyethylene waste combustion produces soot which is an airborne particulate emission and the combustion of polyethylene (both low (LDPE) and high density (HDPE) has been found to produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) especially olefins, paraffin, aldehydes and dioxins which are a danger to human life.

Shortage Of Energy Resources Fueling Charcoal Burning

The lack of alternative energy sources is the leading factor why Ugandans continue to descend on forests to cut down trees to collect firewood and burn charcoal, the executive director of National Environment Management Authority, Dr. Tom Okurut confessed.

Dr. Okurut was speaking on Tuesday during a meeting where the Authority hosted three ministers from Ministry of Water and Environment. Sam Cheptoris, the Minister for Water and Environment, and his deputies Ronald Kibule in charge of water and Maria Gorreti in charge of environment were on a familiarization tour of the statutory body.

Uganda's main source of energy is biomass acquired from national resources like tress and other fossils. Burning of renewable resources provides approximately 90 percent of the energy in Uganda because it is affordable, readily available unlike alternatives like electricity and solar.

Charcoal, a solid black substance got after burning tree logs, is most used domestically to cook, provide heat and light, in rural and urban areas. The demand for charcoal increases every day as population and urbanization continues to grow. This has resulted into climate challenges like global warming.

To revert the challenge, Dr. Okurut said they are working with local government across the country to reduce the cutting down of trees to get charcoal. This is proving to be a remedy in northern Uganda where success is being registered in Otuke district.

‘In Otuke, cutting down of trees has gone down by 80%.” Dr. Okurut told the ministers inside the Authorities boardroom. He blamed the burning of charcoal on lack of alternative energy sources like solar or electricity. He said while the citizens want charcoal for their daily lives, the process ‘should be done in a sustainable manner.

The state minister for water Ronald Kibuule asked NEMA to put in place regional offices to help in environment conservation including reducing the cutting down of trees to get charcoal. He vouched for NEMA to start a tree planting crusade. “Let us not just talk about charcoal burners but also encourage planting of trees.” he told NEMA.

Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment, in his speech, said that the Authority should increase sensitization so that people are educated. “Make sure people understand and appreciate the action you are taking.” He advised.

Alternative sources of energy

The mainstream alternative source of energy is hydroelectricity and solar but the two are expensive and not readily available in rural areas. The coverage of electricity in Uganda still remains in major towns however the demand for electricity has been growing at an average of 10% per annum which government is struggling to meet leading to dramatic load shedding.

Uganda has installed hydro electricity supply of about 800MW but this will grow to about 4,356MW by 2035. Government is undertaking a number of big and small hydro power projects across the country to increase supply and meet demand. 

The level of solar energy utilization in Uganda is still very low. The use of solar is mainly driven by donor-funded programmes for lighting and vaccine refrigeration in health centers and rural schools. Domestic use is also picking up in rural areas as forest are depleted. The cost and maintenance of solar panels is an impediment.

Other alternatives to get include thermal power, oil and natural gas, wind energy, cogeneration, fossil fuels and biomass among others. Both government and private investors are injecting money to generate energy at a cheaper cost. Once realized this reduced the burden on natural resources but most especially forests and preserve the environment.

Development Should Not Be At Expense Of Environment – NEMA

The commemoration of World Environment Day reignited the need for mankind to be mindful of how they use natural resources. The World Environment Day was celebrated across the world with a call for humanity to do all that is in their means to protect the environment.

In Uganda, the World Environment Day was celebrated in Gulu, northern Uganda under the theme Conserve Wildlife, Sustain Livelihoods. To put the seriousness of the challenge at hand, Flavia Nabugera Munaaba, the Minister of State for Environment, said the decline in total forest cover was at an average of 89,000 ha per annum for the period 1990 to 2005.

The World Environment Day celebrations in Gulu attracted officials from UNDP, government minister and officials and the private sector

This has mainly been brought about by human activities.  The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Gulu Capt. Sam Okot speaking at the celebrations said one of the biggest environmental problems is charcoal burning & timber harvesting. "Timber cutting is at a higher level, there is need to sensitize people to plant trees to keep the environment in upstate."

He advised that there is need to employ more police officers to protect the natural resources from being tampered with. The other challenge that was widely discussed was the lost wetlands. It was agreed that there is need to work with the local government, so as to fight encroachment on wetlands and restore all the wetlands hence preserve the eco system at large. Animal poaching is another danger at hand.

A man walks away with a tree seedling given to him by Uganda's Little Hands Go Green team

This year’s celebration kicked off on 3rd June with a number of activities being undertaken by National Environment Authority (NEMA), National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and partner Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green. There activities involved members of communities planting trees in major towns on the Gulu highway. The communities are taking significant efforts in conserving the wildlife.

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, an organization that teaches children about environment conservation teamed up with their partners and cleaned Gulu town. They also gave away thousands of trees to residents living in major towns enroute to Gulu.

Members of Uganda's Little Hands Go Green cleaning Gulu town ahead of the World Evironment Day which tool place in Gulu on 5 June

Onesimus Muhwezi, Team Leader, Energy and Environment, UNDP Uganda, who represented the UN Resident Representative to Uganda noted that 'together we can ensure that our environment is sufficient for us and our Children' adding the ‘it is vital for every one of us to fight and condemn illegal trade in wildlife.’ He warned against the illegal trade in wildlife because it will have significant national & economic effects.

The Executive Director of the National Environmental Management Authority, Dr. Tom Okurut implored that Uganda as a country shouldn't seek development at the expense of the environment. “We must seek for sustainable development,” Dr Okurut said.

Uganda's Little Hands Go Green, NEMA Tie Up World Environment Day Partnership

As the world prepares to celebrate the World Environment Day, Uganda's Little Hands Go Green and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) are teaming up to drive awareness, excitement and  sensitize Ugandans about conservation of the environment.

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated every year on 5 June to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. Uganda will however celebrate it a day later, on Monday 6th June, in Gulu district under the theme "Conserve Wildlife, Sustain Livelihoods."

World Environment Day activations will kick off on 3rd June with a appearances at Wobulenzi, Luwero, Bombo, Nakasongola, Mijera, Kafu, Kiryandongo, Bweyale and Kamdini Corner before visiting Hospitals, Markets, District Headquarters, NGO offices and people's homes on 4th June.

On 5th June activations will be taken to Watoto Church in Gulu ahead of visits to Kolo Abili Primary School, Gulu Baptist Primary School and Coch Ongaka Primary Schoo on 6th June, the day of the main celebrations.

As part of this partnership both organizations and other stakeholders will activate the entire northern corridor with activities ranging from tree planting to anti kavera sensitization and pass on environmental conservation messages. Joseph Masembe the CEO of Uganda's Little Hands Go Green said these activities will carried in all major town enroute to Gulu.

 

Uganda's Little Hands Go Green and National Environment Management Authority have in the recent past had similar partnership that have registered tremendous success. The two organizations recently organized the International Children's Climate Conference, green festivals and visits to schools where pupils have been taught how to care for the environment.

Ill will On Fossil Fuels Break Loose

Things begin falling apart as NASA announces 2016 is hottest year in recorded history. So the threat of climate change proves soaring enough to move countries to break the ice. Here begins a story of men and women standing erect through manmade pains facing the changing planet. Thousands of whom have emptied sorrows to the streets or coal quarries or oil terminals in May 2016 sampling a united will to get rid of dirty energy once and for all.

History may just be rewritten. But the half thrilling and half intimidating side of the truth will forever echo the curse of dirty energy lobby as among the most impossible dystopian illusion of this generation. When the globe finally cools, the battle is successful. When extinction approaches, will the oil industry have planet ‘B’?

Whether or not climate activism is the cup of tea here, the dark past of climate denial, by all standards have bred about 0.04% (400 parts per million) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, many times higher than 400,000 years ago.

Fossil fuel companies bigger than monsters have bankrolled anti-climate change philosophies; climate activists – as meek as lambs of God are being arrested…the list is endless, but the most recent illogical treatment is the arrests of nearly 60 advocates protesting Keystone pipeline in the US. So confirms the saying: “change is painful but inevitable.”

Equally, it might hurt world governments to give up oil wells for the public wellbeing. But the pains and wretchedness resulting from extreme weather conditions such as ill-health, including those caused by droughts, floods, food insecurity and inundation from rising seas is even much long bottled in communities around the world.

Even oil industry knew of 'serious' climate concerns more than 45 years ago. In fact, researchers warned American Petroleum Institute in 1968 how the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels could eventually lead to ‘worldwide environmental changes.’

Despite this good faith, they chose to pay a deaf ear, that’s why things had to fall apart. Some did the opposite – trying to challenge climate change science – with illicit documentations. Further evidence unveils that American Petroleum Institute, the peak body for the oil industry in the US, knew about the dangers of climate change at least 20 years before the issue was brought into mainstream public discourse via the former Nasa scientist James Hansen.

The then influential world leaders like the US president Lyndon Johnson also received an early cautioning about climate change, with scientists explaining the mechanism of the greenhouse effect as early as 1965.

For how long could any such delicate matter be hidden? Not too long! With the final blow being the latest Nasa’s thermometers reading global average temperatures as ‘soaring at 1.28C’ as of March above the average from 1951-1980, while February was 1.34C higher, dangerous tipping points, an irreversible benchmark could be crossed.

Climate change is usually crosschecked over years and decades, but even scientists have been struck by the recent unprecedented temperatures. Furthermore, annual heat records have been also breaking records, with 2015 demolishing the record set in 2014 for the hottest year seen, in data stretching back to 1850.

Prof Michael Mann, a climate scientist who spends most of his time between shelves and laboratories of Penn State University also became agile-tonged about March data by saying: “Wow. I continue to be shocked by what we are seeing.” He said the world had now been hovering close to the threshold of “dangerous” warming for two months, something not seen before.”

“The [new data] is a reminder of how perilously close we now are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory,” Mann said. “It underscores the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions.”

As such terrifying facts unfold; the fossil fuel business seems dragging towards hell, with sharp losses resulting from steep price drops. Alternatively, exemplary investors like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is divesting its heavily invested holding in BP.

The weights “breaking” dangerous fossil fuels is the most courageous wave of actions challenging business as usual across the world. Motivated by an ever strengthening, ever stretching effort to achieve 100% renewable energy, breakfree campaign resounds the knell that spelled fossil fuels at the close of COP21.

In the UK, the campaign had the country’s largest open-cast coal mine shut over 12 hours. While in the Philippines, over 10,000 people marched in Batangas city demanding the cancellation of the proposed 600 – megawatt coal powered plant in Barangay Pinamucan.

All signals indicate greener earth and a brighter future will lean on the raptures of renewable energy miracles that must shatter the bondage of carbon dioxide emissions nuclear energy price competitions built from the cradles civilization to the present moment.

To harness the moment, activists and concerned citizens committed to addressing climate change—from international groups to local communities to individual citizens— are united to maintain grips to force energy providers, as well as local and national governments, to steer towards a renewable future through investing in wind and solar energy.

This enviable cause justifies the discharge of thousands of men and women showing the world a glimpse into wrecking resistance through solidarity hard for politicians foster. Each action was unique: from the coal fields of UK, to the oil wells of Nigeria, to defiant actions against new coal power plant in Indonesia and the Philippines -- and many places beyond but all echoes one sound: stop polluting our ecosystem! End fossil fuels. And now.

In order to address the present-day climate crisis, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced now that renewable energy is more affordable and widespread than ever before. The only way to achieve this is by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerating the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

 

By Boaz Opio

Environmental Writer, Kampala Uganda.

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PHOTOS: Kids Tackle Climate Change Challenge With Verve

Developing countries like Uganda are at a higher risk of being devastated by the negative impact of climate change. As a preventive measure environmental activists are undertaking initiatives to stop agents of climate change.

One of the agents of climate change is deforestation which is an act of cutting down trees. In a situation where trees have been cut, efforts to re-plant new and more tree is taking shape. Afforestation is being used to curb the devastation caused by the vegetation that was cut down by man.

In Uganda, Little Hands Go Green, an organization championing good environmental practices, is using children friendly initiatives to protect the environment. Over the weekend, the organization hosted over 500 children at a one day International Children’s Climate Change Conference 2016. The conference which was also celebrating International Earth Day took place at Rainbow International School.

The conference also celebrated World Earth Day

Children from different schools debated environment and water topics, presented poems, participated in tree planting exercises, made paintings in support of nature, danced and presented their ideas about mitigating climate change. Senior environmentalists were also at hand to answer questions from the pupils.

Pupils were taught how to plant and care for the trees

The annual conference, the third one in a row, was organized under the theme ‘When Water Slows, Trees Die’. It was supported by Midland Group of companies, National Forestry Authority (NFA), NBS Television, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Vivo Energy.

Uganda's Little Hands Go Green team at the conference

Joseph Masembe CEO of Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green said the only way the environment can be saved is through using the young generation because “they are our future and we must create love for nature in them in order for them to encourage and inspire others.”

Kotecha handed over a dummy cheque of Shs10m to buy tree seedlings that will distributed across the country.

Drashna Kotecha, Director of Rainbow said “we must make sure that environment is protected and preserved to have proper living. A conference like this grooms young generation on the importance of nature and that’s why we as Midland Group of Companies joined Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and we shall support them as long as we can.”

 

 

 

Charcoal Burning Uganda’s Future

 

Tree fellers should use the timber for making their own coffins. Because, as they kill that 100 year old Mvule, the poor tree is busy supplying them with good air to live. Hacking down a living tree to produce charcoal, one is initiating endless cycles of murder no one can ever tell. First, life of a tragic carbon at a thousandth year of captivity in the trunk is being restored! The logger is innocently condemning the lives of uncountable species of living things.

Deforestation, and especially the destruction of rainforests, is a hugely significant contributor to climate change in Uganda. Scientists estimate that forest loss and other changes to the use of land account for around 23% of current man-made carbon dioxide emissions – which equates to roughly 17% of the 100-year warming impact of all current greenhouse-gas emissions.

The impact of the charcoal industry in Uganda’s once believed to be the most stunning of all Africa’s vegetation is despairing.

Surely, if one day, the spirit of one Sir Winston Churchill, who constantly referred to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa could tour back, we can’t know what the late would make of how rapidly the country has lost it’s beautiful ecosystem to, primarily energy.

Ninety-six percent of Ugandan households depend on wood fuel for cooking. According to a study conducted by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the rate of charcoal production and usage in Uganda between 1998 and 2008 increased by 76% mainly due to increased urbanization.

The study further noted that production of charcoal in Uganda was mainly based on cutting naturally growing trees using simple methods. The current rate of deforestation stands at 1.8%. This means the scarcity of firewood can only get worse unless ambitious interventions are put in place to reverse this trend.

Wood fuel is deeply rooted in both Uganda’s household and industrial energy mix that several attempts to cut the production of the fossil fuel often meets resistance.  In Gulu district, charcoal burners in January only played hide-and-seek with the local authorities trying to impose a mere month ban. 

More burning can’t help heal the already raped lands. But just how will the 85% of the population survive without a reliable alternative energy source? Will the small solar panels visible on few roof tops of villagers produce enough energy for cooking food?

According to some reports, Uganda loses close to 73,000 hectares of forest cover annually, which has critically catalyzed the impacts of global warming in the land-locked country: fields that no longer grow… erratic and harsh weather conditions such as hot days, all have their seeds in a falling tree.

Every year our atmosphere loses around 10 billion cubic metres of oxygen, replacing it with carbon dioxide that would absorbed by flora. Knowing this should help us appreciate the vital contributions made by trees.

During the course of its life, a single average 100 year old tree will have fixed the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) contained in 18 million cubic metres of air in the form of about 2,500 kilograms of pure carbon. Experts have calculated that a hectare of well-working forestry annually absorbs about 6.5 tons of carbon dioxide while releasing 3.5 to 5 tons of oxygen.

For all of human history until around the dawn of the age of fossil fuels, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere was stable at ~275 parts per million (ppm). As climate pundit Bill McKibben explains, “Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere.”7 275 ppm CO2 is a useful, balanced amount which allows enough greenhouse-gasses to create a warm, livable climate but not so much as to make a dangerously hot one.

With limited renewable energy of poor nations, the demand for the fossil fuel have swelled and our carbon-emissions have soared exponentially. As a result, there is now a dangerously high amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

An average 100 year old tree is said to have availed 6,600 kilograms of oxygen for living creatures. A single tree such as a mature Mvule can produce enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. Cut down a Mvule and you condemn 10 people. Cut down a hundred and you condemn a village. Cut down a forest and you are committing genocide; aside from destroying wild-life habitats.

Cut down forests for fossil fuels and you are doing no service to humankind. You are a blight, not a blessing, on civilization; and the face of this Earth – you are burning the future!

 

BY: Boaz Opio

Environmentalist (Kampala Uganda)

 

Rainbow International School Swimathon Fundraises For Children's Climate Conference

 

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, a local organization that fights against Climate Change using children led initiatives, has sealed a working partnership with Rainbow International School in support of the upcoming International Children Climate Change Conference.

The conference which is in its third year will take place on Earth Day, 22 April, at Rainbow International School. To kick off their partnership, Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and Rainbow organized the first ever charity swimming competition dubbed ‘Swimathon’ to raise money to buy fruit tree seedlings.

The two entities used the event that took place on Saturday to hold a press conference to launch the International Children Climate Change Conference. Rainbow International School also used the press conference to announce that they have joined the Go Green campaign. They also declared their unspecified sponsorship of the children’s climate change conference.

“We at Rainbow are all proud to say that today is the day when we officially go green.” A statement released by the school owned by Midland Group of companies read in part. “As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Midland Group and Rainbow have come out to strongly support environmental conservation efforts through tree planting.

We are thankful to all our students, parents and teachers that took part in the ‘Swimathon’ to raise funds that were handed over to Little Hands Go Green (Uganda) for the purchase of tree seedlings to plant all over Uganda. Let’s go Rainbow, let’s go Little Hands Go Green (Uganda), let’s go Uganda – make our country green!”  Drashna Kotecha the Director of Rainbow International School and Midland Group told journalists at the swimathon.

Joseph Masembe, the chief executive officer of Little Hands Go Green urged Ugandans to seek and create a patriotic culture of saving “our mother nature, our environment and ultimately our future” by creating a mass hysteria about tree planting by children both at school and at home.

“There is no one who is going to do it for us but ourselves. We have to tell our children it is their responsibility to protect the environment. Today we have involved them to get tree seedlings through this fun filled event of swimming. At the conference we will tell them why they should care about the environment and how they should do it.” Masembe explained.

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