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Napak Residents Accuse District Officials of Promoting Charcoal Burning

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Simon Longoli one of the concerned environmentalist and a resident of Auriki Akinei village in Iriiri sub-county in Napak district, says that the campaign to protect the environment and planting more trees in Karamoja is being undermined by government officials
15 Dec 2020 17:38
Karimojong women selling charcoal in Napak district
Residents of Iriiri Sub County in Napak district Karamoja sub-region have accused district officials of promoting charcoal trade in Karamoja.

Simon Longoli one of the concerned environmentalist and a resident of Auriki Akinei village in Iriiri sub-county in Napak district, says that the campaign to protect the environment and planting more trees in  Karamoja is being undermined by government officials who are buying charcoal and load in government cars taking to their destinations.

According to Longoli, many government vehicles go to Karamoja empty but on their way back to Kampala or Soroti they park many bags of charcoal giving a room for locals to continue cutting down indigenous trees for burning charcoal.

“Despite the efforts by government and other development   partner’s fighting environmental degradation in Karamoja, majority of people are venturing in felling down of trees because of the high demand of charcoal and it’s mainly being promoted by people driving government cars," he said.

Peter Akudo a parish councillor of Alekilek parish in Iriiri Sub County said they have tried their effort to block cutting down of trees for charcoal burning but they have failed because the buyers of the charcoal are the government employees.

“If government officials could avoid buying and loading charcoal bags along Karamoja routes, am sure very many people would have left because there will be no business but now people are continuing cutting trees and burning charcoal well assured of the available market,” he said.

Samuel Lote another youth said they will soon start intercepting and arresting government drivers who load charcoal in government cars.

“We are going to do whatever it cost us to save the environment by arresting any lorry or pickup loaded with charcoal in Napak and it will be worse with those using government cars for transporting charcoal.

Paulina Lokongo the senior natural resource officer of Napak district local government said the rate at which trees are being destroyed in Napak is worrying.

“It would be very great if the youth are now opening up to fight against environmental degradation in Napak, ”she said.

According to Lokongo in a day they are more than 1,000 trees being cut down in the entire Napak district for charcoal burning without being replaced.

Alhaji Jallow, the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2017 while launching commercial tree planting drive in Karamoja warned that should people of Karamoja don't embrace tree planting as a serious project, Karamoja region will become the worse desert area in the coming years due to high rate of tree cutting for charcoal.