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Encroachers Raid River Katonga Wetlands In Sembabule

Francis Byarugaba, the Sembabule District Environmental Officer has described the encroachers as refugees who escaped from their gazetted settlement in Nakivale camp.
Residents of Makoole at their public meeting to discuss the rampant encroachment on Wetlands in Sembabule district

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Encroachers have cultivated huge chunks of land in swamps around river Katonga in Sembabule district, raising concern of massive environment destruction in the area. 

At least 80 people have so far reclaimed swamps along the edges of river Katonga in the sub counties; Kawanda, Kyera, Bulongo and Rugushuulu in Sembabule district where people are searching for land to carryout farming.

Several encroachers reportedly from Rwanda and Burundi are largely concentrated at the border of Sembabule and Gomba districts, where they are cultivating crops that include among others; Maize, beans, tomatoes, cassava and other seasonal vegetables. 

Francis Byarugaba, the Sembabule District Environmental Officer has described the encroachers as refugees who escaped from their gazetted settlement in Nakivale camp.  Byarugaba indicates these people came to Sembabule as casual labourers on local farms about a year ago, until recently when he learnt that they started putting up temporally settlements hence destroying the ecosystem in the area.  

While addressing a community meeting at Makoole village on Wednesday, Byarugaba indicated that they have instructed these refugees to vacate the wetlands, but all in vain. He blamed some of local leaders of condoning the habit by helping the encroachers to evade arrest. 

//Cue in: “bwekituuka kwekyo…..

Cue out: ……report to environment.”//    

Besides the refugees who are new invaders, Byarugaba adds that some of local communities including prominent people are also destroying the swamp land, which they are replacing with eucalyptus forests.  According to him, the encroachers have so far destroyed about 120 acres of swamp in the district. He has however asked the village council to closely corroborate with the district environment office and security teams to fight the ongoing depleting of wetlands in their areas.   

//Cue in: “naye tukola…… Cue out; …….abamu nebataba balungi.”// 

Robert Ambikire, the Sembabule L.C.V councilor representing Ntuusi Sub county and Secretary Natural Resources Committee, says they notified the relevant ministries about the ongoing encroachment, requesting that they directly intervene in the situation.  But Nixon Kabuye, the Sembabule Resident District Commissioner has instructed police to promptly move in and backup the environment officers to evict all encroachers on wetlands.