What you need to know:
- The Minister of Presidency, Ms Milly Babalanda Babirye, on August 14, 2022, issued a circular reminding RDCs and RCCs of the presidential directive asking them to rid wetlands of all encroachers.
Bushenyi Resident District Commissioner, Ms Jane Asiimwe Muhindo, has decried harassment from “high-end and connected individuals” especially government officials who threaten her efforts in implementing the presidential directive on wetlands.
While speaking to Monitor on Wednesday, Ms Asiimwe, without mentioning names said she had received ‘warnings’ from some individuals accusing her of sabotaging their business interests.
“While we are working hard to implement presidential directive on wetland protection, we have met a challenge of highly connected people in government who are using their positions to bring us down. I am soon writing to the president seeking guidance and security,” Ms Asiimwe said.
President Museveni has on different occasions issued warnings directing people to vacate wetlands, but this has met hindrances.
The Minister of Presidency, Ms Milly Babalanda Babirye, on August 14, 2022, issued a circular reminding RDCs and RCCs of the presidential directive asking them to rid wetlands of all encroachers.
“There are some of those members who are supposed to lead by example in vacating these wetlands voluntarily but they don’t do it and then when we go to the community, people say that we have left the rich people in town and as we attempt to go for them, we end up being victims,” Ms Asiimwe added.
“Nonetheless, we are going to apply the law uniformly to ensure that the already degraded wetlands are restored and left to regenerate despite the threats. The amazing result of this effort is that when these big people leave wetlands, the rest of the population will learn and leave voluntarily,” she noted
According to the Bushenyi senior environment officer, Mr Vincent Kataate, 25 per cent of the wetlands in the district have been degraded and they are employing a number of interventions with partners to restore them.
Mr Kataate also said that wetland restoration and protection has been derailed by the “loose law, which allows some people to be in wetlands, and at the same time asks some to get out.”
“When people look at those big people in wetlands, they think there is peddling but we are doing what we can to do the work uniformly,” he said.
The leaders have resolved to work together as a team to avoid being targeted and victimised by encroachers.
According to the Ministry of Water and Environment 2016 wetland atlas, the national area of wetlands declined by 30 per cent between 1994 and 2008. And although between 2008 and 2014 there was an increase in area under wetlands, this has been a meager 0.03 per cent increase from 26,307km2 in 2008 to 26,315 km2 in 2014 (MWE, 2014).
The report also shows that the area under wetlands in the different river basins is on the decline. The extent of decline varies from over 53.8 per cent in the Lake Victoria basin to 14.7 percent in the Lake Albert drainage basin.