Kampala- A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so goes the Chinese adage. And for Mr Geoffrey Ayeni, the 370-kilometre walk from Kampala to Kasese District to raise awareness about climate change, began yesterday morning from Ministry of Water and Environment offices in Luzira, a Kampala suburb.
The walk seeks to raise awareness about climate change, its impacts and planting of trees along the route to lessen those adverse effects.
“I am physically fit and ready to go,” Mr Ayeni, a member of the Walkers Association, a group established with aim of improving lives through walking, said.
Mr Ayeni, now on the second climate change awareness trek after another 320km-walk from Kampala to Kapchorwa District last year, challenged Water and Environment officials, Monitor Publications Ltd (MPL), and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a global conservationists group, among others, to embrace the campaign.
Water and Environment minister Sam Cheptoris said Uganda is fast losing its beauty to degraders and the ministry welcomes all initiatives aimed at restoring the disintegrating plant and animal resources.
“We are energised by the campaign. You are aware of the problems we’re facing in the environment sector. We think that the problems are so huge that the ministry cannot handle alone,” minister Cheptoris said.
“Ugandans are behaving as if some people did not live before us. If our predecessors behaved like us, would we be having any forests and lakes?” he asked.
A joint Water and Environment Sector Review report released last year revealed that Uganda’s forest cover has dropped to 9 per cent, a sharp fall from 11 per cent in 2015.
The same report indicated that the country’s wetland cover has reduced to less than 10 per cent.
The disappearing wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers are some of the natural features that influence temperatures, rainfall formation and regulation of floods.
Mr Tony Glencross, the MPL managing director, pledged support to the campaign.
“Environment is something I am passionate about and I am trying to drive MPL in terms of taking on causes of this nature such that we can educate and grow the knowledge and understanding of what’s happening around us,” Mr Glencross said.
Mr Ayeni’s journey will involve planting trees in different districts straddling the Kampala- Kasese highway.
It is expected that at least one million trees will have been planted by end of the walk.
On his part, Mr David Duli, the WWF country director, said: “We want to call upon Ugandans to come, join the campaign and plant trees.”
At the climax of the walk in Kasese, Mr Duli said they will mark the annual Earth Hour organised by WWF.
Earth Hour, the biggest movement to protect our planet, is an event premised on encouraging individuals and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8.30 to 9:30pm on a specific day towards the end of March, as a symbolic gesture to save the planet from destruction.
Mr Paul Mafabi, the director of environment in the ministry of Water and Environment, said. “Continued environment degradation has reduced the capacity of and resilience of ecosystems but also ability of people to cope with these changes.”
March 14: Set off from Luzira
March 15: Arrive, plant trees in Mityana
March 16: Plant trees in Mubende
March 17: Team in Kyegegwa
March 18: Resting day
March 19: Plant trees in Kyegegwa
March 19: Travel to Kyenjojo District
March 20: Tree planting in Kyenjojo, travel
March 21: Tree planting in Fort Portal
March 21: Commemorate Forests Day
March 22: Plant trees in Hima
Commemorate Water Day
March 23: Resting day
March 24: Participate in public march,tree planting in Kasese Town and mark Earth Hour