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Poor Funding Frustrates Efforts to Stop Environmental Degradation in Kigezi

Area leaders and environmental activists say that despite registering an increase in reports of persons encroaching on wetlands and natural forests, and poor methods of farming, they are unable to stop the practices due to a shortage of funds and poor enforcement.
Part of running waters in Kacherere town council this week

Audio 5

Lack of support from the government is hampering the fight against environmental degradation across districts in Kigezi region.  

Area leaders and environmental activists say that despite registering an increase in reports of persons encroaching on wetlands and natural forests, and poor methods of farming, they are unable to stop the practices due to a shortage of funds and poor enforcement. As a result, they say that the region has remained prone to environmental disasters.  

Kabale District Environment Officer Evas Asiimwe says that encroachment on wetlands, river banks and lake shores have become rampant in the district, citing human activities on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi and Kiruruma River which has led to an increase in silting and poor quality of water. Asiimwe however says that they have failed to fight the encroachers due to a lack of government support.

Asiimwe explains that the Police Environment Unit does not have enough personnel to help her office fight degradation of this nature, and her office, where she is the only environment officer in the district, does not have the capacity to reach all areas.

//Cue in; “we have wetland…

Cue out…. encroached on.”//  

Kabale District Natural Resources Officer Rogers Akatwijuka says that there are only two environment officers within the Kigezi region, a number which he says is very low to effectively help in a fight against environmental degradation. Akatwijuka says that the department lacks vehicles and fuel to facilitate the officers to go to the field to crackdown environmental degraders. 

//Cue in;  "enforcement manya ku…

Cue out…kya government.”//  

Catherine Ahimbisibwe, the Principal Disaster Management Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister insists that the government, through the National Environment Management Authority has cancelled land titles that were issued in wetlands, and that the government is focusing on sensitizing the public about environmental protection and recruiting more environmental staff to help in fighting against environmental degradation.

//Cue in; “hati government ebi…

Cue out…nikiza kukorwa.”//

According to the 2021 National Risk and Vulnerability Atlas of Uganda, a booklet that locates areas that are prone to disasters in the country including the preparedness, response, and management strategies, South-Western Ugandan districts are listed among districts prone to Landslides and flooding, and lightning.  

This month, Ben Besigensi, alias Kacoco,67, a resident of Rwarugambwa village in Kibuzigye parish, Hamuhambo town council, and a retired headteacher was killed by running water at Kilwa village in Bubaare sub-county, Rubanda district. A 13-year-old, Hilda Orishaba in Nangaro, in Hamurwa sub-county, was also swept by running water from a eucalyptus forest where she had gone with her mother. Beatrice Nyakarungi.

Three people were in this month struck dead and another injured by lightning in the same district. The deceased are; Stanley Sunday Owoyesiga alias Tissue,63, a headteacher of Golden Star High School, Ben Kwikiriza,16, a resident of Rwamuyora village in Muko sub-county and Bright Orikiriza, a resident of Karambo Village. The injured was identified only as Happy from Kamuserwa village in Nyarurambi ward, Rubanda town council.

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