The Minister of Finance says the government has ordered all Ugandans to vacate wetlands and forest reserves, but will allow investors who set up factories to operate for the meantime because they were misled.
Mr Matia Kasaija said the government can allow investors in wetlands because some did not know they were occupying such catchment areas.
“If those [investors] were misled, they will be tolerated because they were not told from the word go, but those [locals] who went there [wetlands] having been warned are the ones we are targeting,” he said yesterday.
He made the remarks while unveiling the International University of East Africa as the venue for the upcoming East African Food security symposium and expo scheduled for October 14 to 16.
Mr Kasaija, who represented the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and minister for East African Community Affairs, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, said the government decided to take a firm stand against wetland encroachment because pollution was taking a toll on Lake Victoria and other water bodies.
Asked to explain what the upcoming symposium is about, Dr Tom Okurut, the executive director for Climate Change Action in East Africa, said the public needs to know the link between climate change, food security, nutrition, and wellbeing.
He said when there is prolonged drought or flooding, it affects food security.
Dr Okurut said in the upcoming symposium, they are going to unpack climate change by showing the impacts on food systems and exhibit technologies for processing and preserving food, which are environment friendly.
Prof Emeka Akaezuwa, the Vice Chancellor for IUCA, said they have organised the symposium to link the innovations and research from the university with small holder farmers, who are the most affected by effects of climate change, but do not know that traditional methods of agriculture such as deforestation and use of fossil fuels are responsible for the effects of climate change.
He said the university has innovated sustainable technologies which can increase agricultural yields.
In January, President Museveni ordered all encroachers out of wetlands. In July, an estimated 30 acres of rice were cut down in Otuke District under unclear circumstances.
Mr Mbarak Muhindo, an environment police officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, said they resorted to cutting down the rice to discourage people from cultivating in wetlands.