Nature is speaking: Why we all must listen

Sunday August 2 2020



William Lubuulwa

William Lubuulwa 

By William Lubuulwa

In June, Uganda joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Environment Day (WED) with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) taking the lead in the celebrations.

Unlike in the past 30 years where our country has been part of this global environment pomp, this year, just like the rest of the world, Uganda celebrated WED ‘scientifically’ – with a handful of celebrants at NEMA House in Kampala. The 2020 national WED celebrations ran under the theme: Nature is speaking, listen, while the global theme was: Time for Nature. This year’s themes implored us to pay great attention to nature and constantly check our actions.

Officiating at the small but colourful function, State minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar took stock of Uganda’s gains in environment conservation towards sustainable development. Ms Anywar reminded Ugandans that government fights to ensure that environmental resources are appropriately harnessed for a sustainable socio-economic transformation.

We must remember that nature hosts us. We, therefore, have an obligation to respect and handle it with utmost care and responsibility. This is our house and this is where we get our livelihood from. The National Environment Act No.5, 2019, Article 4 stipulates that nature has rights. I quote: “Nature has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.”

In April, President Museveni instructed that people are cleared from wetlands, shorelines and river banks. Yes, following this directive, and in fulfilment of our mandate as NEMA, we continue to routinely regulate, monitor, supervise and coordinate all environment activities across the country. And because the responsibility of ensuring sustainable development of Uganda rests on each one of us, caring for the environment must not be left to NEMA alone.

Recently, there have been cases of lake water surges in places such as Mulungu and Ggaba in Kampala; flooding in Kasese and other areas, landslides in mountainous areas, and further extreme wet and dry conditions.

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We, therefore, must listen to nature. Nature is speaking and wants its space. Mother nature is just trying to reclaim her lost territory, and she will continue to do so whether we want it or not. To be safe, we should listen to Nature’s gentle talk because if we do not, she will start shouting at us causing a lot of harm to our lives, settlements, farmlands and other developments.

It is, therefore, necessary for us to become attentive agents of a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future. By recklessly cutting down trees without planting new ones; by littering our cities, towns, villages and roads; by not respecting the Tuve ku Kaveera campaign; and by refusing to listen to the cries of the environment; we are degenerating into agents of self-destruction.

We have continued to note with concern the increase in the maltreatment of the environment during the Covid-19 lockdown. Yes, supervision has been low but I do not want to assume that President Museveni’s directive to keep just 30 per cent of the staff in government institutions during this time is to blame. Many people are just irresponsible users of our environment.

Although the 1995 Constitution dictates that every person in Uganda has a right to a healthy environment, a quick scan on Kampala and many other towns exposes heaps of unending garbage and clutter, especially of the type of kaveera that was banned. Bad disposal, especially of non-biodegradable materials, affects lives of all creatures, including humans, and it also interferes with the ability of soils to support plant life. If this continues, what will become of future generations?

Mr Lubuulwa is the senior information, education and communications officer, NEMA.
william.lubuulwa@nema.go.ug

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