Climate change is one of the biggest problems that is affecting people worldwide. Countries are coming up with various strategies and interventions to mitigate the adverse and hostile effects of climate change.
Industrialisation is one of the causes of climate change, especially in poor countries, including Uganda, that need industries to provide jobs for the youth.
Industries also help to improve the economy of the country. Yet as much as industries contribute towards economic development of a country, they should not be established at the expense of the environment.
It was reported in the Sunday Monitor February 9 that President Museveni ordered the authorities to degazette Kyarubanga Forest Reserve in Nakasongola District to settle 1,800 households to enable them to engage in income generating activities. This was as in response to a petition to him by some Nakasongola District leaders and Members of Parliament.
In a strategic guidelines and directives for the period 2016 to 2021 by the President at the inaugural Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe on June 23, 2016, the President highlighted environmental destruction such as encroaching on forests, wetlands and destroying river banks as some of the challenges the country is facing and he directed that it should stop.
The President advised that encroachers be vacated persuasively and in a formal way. He also recommended that land should be purchased from private owners to increase the forest cover.
In comparison with the two directives from the same issuing authority, the President seems to approach this issue by handling perpetrators with kid gloves as he has not condemned or taken action against those destroying the environment.
If one encroaches on the environment, they should be penalised for their act. The environment should be protected with an iron fist. People are deliberately destroying the environment with impunity simply because the President seems to use a soft approach against people who encroach on forests, wetlands, etc, under the pretext of investment and industrialisation.
The President and Members of Parliament, who support the degazetting of a forest in Nakasongola, seemingly want to please the masses in return of political support given that there are many potential voters this to me is such a short term strategy which does not solve the issue of environmental destruction.
Forest reserves such as Namanve have been destroyed for construction of an industrial park and in many wetlands, rice growing has also been done on a large scale. The President at one point even condemned the practice, without taking any action against the culprits.
The statutory bodies mandated to protect and conserve the environment often issue licences or permits to the perpetrators, but later turn around to feign ignorance when it comes to light that they engaged in an illegality. I believe there is alternative land where industries can be established without destroying the environment.