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River Mpanga Management Plan Stalls Over Funds

Last year, districts in the region signed the River Mpanga Management plan aimed at protecting the river from destruction. Since then, nothing has been done, which has resulted into encroachment on the river threatening its existence.

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Districts in Rwenzori region have failed to implement the River Mpanga Management Plan, which has led to increased encroachment of the river. River Mpanga draws its waters from the hills of the Rwenzori Mountains. It originates from the hills of Kazingo in Kabarole district, traverses Fort-Portal municipality, and enters Kibale National Park and snakes through Kyejonjo and Kamwenge districts to Lake George.

Last year, districts in the region signed the River Mpanga Management plan aimed at protecting the river from destruction. Since then, nothing has been done, which has resulted into encroachment on the river threatening its existence. The National Environment (Wetlands, Lake Shores and River banks management) regulations of 2000 states that any activity carried out near a river should be one hundred meters away from the river bank.

At Kazingo in Kichwamba Sub County, where the river passes the communities have cultivated bananas, yams, sugar canes, vegetables on the river banks resulting into silting. In Fort Portal town, washing bays have been established 20 meters from the river banks and oils from the vehicles pour into the water, which is consumed by residents of the town. At Mpanga Market, the toilets that are being used by the traders have been constructed along the river. Raw human waste is discharged directly into the river, whenever it rains.

John Ruyonga, the head of Natural Resources Kabarole district says that the plan has been shelved because of lack of funds to implement it. Ruyonga says districts in the region were supposed to contribute funds for implementing the plan but have failed citing inadequate funds allocated to the natural resources sector. According to Ruyonga, the money is meant for buying tree for planting near the river, set up income generating projects like bee keeping to discourage residents from sand and stone extraction, which could affect the river. Ruyonga says the number of encroachers on the river bank increases everyday and is worrying.

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Steven Asaba, the Kabarole district environment officer says they have written to the Ministry of Water and Environment requesting for funds to implement the management plan. He also says that Fort Portal Municipal council has been directed to relocate the two washing bays, which are near the river. Asaba says oils from the vehicles pour into the water, which is consumed by some residents.

Margaret Komuhimbo, a member of the district environment committee suggests that village meetings be conducted to train and sensitize members of the community on environmental issues especially geared towards the protection of the river.

 

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