Thursday June 26 2014

Importance of impact assessment

By Samuel Okulony

Environmental degradation in Uganda is caused by mismanagement of development activities. Such concerns have made evident the necessity for the planning authorities to count on sound information about the possible environmental consequences of development actions, especially in our oil. One of the tools available to satisfy this is represented environmental impact assessment (EIA). This procedure involves the systematic identification and evaluation of the possible impacts on the environment caused by a proposed project. EIA is now applied almost in all countries across the world including Uganda.

The core values of any EIA are integrity, utility and sustainability: The EIA process should result in environmental safeguards which are sufficient to mitigate serious adverse effects and avoid irreversible loss of resource and ecosystem functions. An effective EIA is usually carried out in eight steps; each of which has an equal importance in determining the overall performance of the project. In practice, the EIA process begins with screening to ensure that time and resources are directed at the proposals that matter environmentally and end with some form of follow up on the implementation of the decisions and actions taken as a result of an EIA report. The eight steps of the EIA process are briefly presented below:

Screening,which determines whether the proposed project, requires an EIA and the level of assessment required.
Scoping identifies the key issues and impact that should be further investigated.

Impact analysis identifies and predicts likely environmental and social impact of the proposed project and evaluates the significance.
Mitigation recommends the actions to reduce and avoid the potential adverse environmental consequences of development activities.
Giving a report on the result of the EIA.
Review of the EIA to examine its adequacy and effectiveness
Deciding whether the project is rejected, approved or needs further change.

Post monitoring to check whether the impacts of the project do not exceed the legal standards and implementation of the mitigation measures are in the manner as described in the EIA report.

Mr Okulony is from Africa institute for energy governance