Insufficient funding of environment activities by the district local governments in Kabarole and Kyenjojo has affected the enforcement of environmental laws in the area.
Meager funds are allocated to the natural resources departments which are in-charge of forests, wetlands and rivers among others. Coupled with limited resources, the department also faces a problem of under-staffing.
Some of the laws include the National Environment (wetlands, river banks and lakeshore) Management Regulation 2000, which calls for protection of wetlands, rivers and lakeshores; and the National Environment Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003, which calls for conservation, sustainable management and development of forests.
In Kabarole district, the natural resource department is allocated 6.5 million shillings each financial year.
Godfrey Ruyonga, the natural resources coordinator, says that the money is shared by the environment and forest offices. According to Ruyonga, with the insufficient funds, the department can’t enforce the laws and carry out education and awareness campaigns to ensure protection of the environment.
He also says that the department generates revenue from land and forests worth Shs 124 million shillings, but the district remits only Shs 800,000 to the department.
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In Kyenjojo district, where several hectares of forest cover have been cleared in Bugaaki, Matiri, and Kihura sub counties to pave way for human settlement, the natural resources department is also handicapped to stop illegal activities.
The natural resource coordinator, David Baguma, says that the department is allocated Shs 15 million every financial year. He says that some activities have also been put on halt because of understaffing. He explains that the department is supposed to have five staff, but there are only two.
Enid Kajumba, the assistant chief administrative officer for Kyenjojo, says that they wish to increase funding of the department, but the Ministry of Finance cuts the district budget by half. She also says that other departments are affected.
In a telephone interview, Flavia Munaabi, the Minister of state for environment admits that environment activities are underfunded, but says that in a bid to address the problem, the government has established environment police officers in all districts. The environment protection police would work with the natural resources departments to ensure that the provisions of the laws and regulations related to environment are complied with.
She however says that underfunding shouldn’t be an excuse for not enforcing the law. Munaabi says that local governments have been the very violators of environmental laws. She notes that some districts have encroached on wetlands to provide their communities with economic activities.