The rate of encroachment on wetlands in Isingiro district by private developers and farmers has attracted the attention of environmentalists. Several wetlands that drain into Lake Nakivale and Kagera River, which connect to Lake Victoria are fast being destroyed by human activities. Some of the residents have built in the wetlands, while others have opened up gardens.
The affected wetlands include Rwamurunga and Kajaho in Kikagate and several others in Isingiro and Kaberebere town councils. Others that are on the brink of being wiped out include Nyakashana, Ruyanga and Kagogo wetlands. The destruction of the wetlands, which act as the main water catchment area is partly blamed for the prolonged drought in the district.
Several residents in the district are currently dependent on handouts from well-wishers, while others have crossed into the neighboring Tanzania with their animals in search of water and pasture. Emanuel Bwengye, the Isingiro District Natural Resources Officers says the destruction of the wetlands is alarming. Bwengye warns of a looming catastrophe should the trend continue unabated.
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Bwengye is worried that with the continued depletion, the country will spend more money to access water from international water bodies for domestic use.
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According to Bwengye, his department is working closely with the political leadership to check the vice. Jackson Turyagumanawe, an environmental activist in Isingiro district told our reporter that residents have failed to learn from the current challenges resulting from environmental degradation.
He asks residents to d abandon their selfish interests and work towards the restoration of the environment. Julius Kangume is one of those who have encroached on a wetland for construction. Kangume says the high cost of land forced them into wetlands.
Jeremiah Kamurali, the Isingiro district LC V chairperson says residents have embarked on measures to restore the depleted environment.
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Kamurali says the district can only get back on its feet through protecting the environment.