What you need to know:
In 2019, the Ministry of Water and Environment partnered with Mabira Tree Nursery Association (MTNA), a community-based organisation, to plant trees specifically Bamboo to restore the depleted forest cover on the river banks in the districts of Buikwe, Jinja , Kamuli, and Kayunga
Environmentalists behind the restoration of the forest cover on the River Nile banks have accused some local leaders of frustrating the project.
In 2019, the Ministry of Water and Environment partnered with Mabira Tree Nursery Association (MTNA), a community-based organisation, to plant trees specifically Bamboo to restore the depleted forest cover on the river banks in the districts of Buikwe, Jinja , Kamuli, and Kayunga.
Mr John Giribo, the general secretary of MTNA, said some trees have been uprooted by locals with the full knowledge of the local leaders.
“Local politicians in some areas mobilised the residents to resist the programme saying we could have compensated them first, which was not part of our original plan,” he said on Monday.
He cited areas such as Butagaya in Jinja District, Buloba, and Malindi in Buikwe District where bamboo trees have been uprooted by the residents.
“In Butagaya, the sub-county chairperson ordered residents to uproot all the trees we planted. The only good thing they did was to collect them together unlike in Wakisi, Malindi and Buloba where they uprooted and threw them away,” Mr Giribo said.
He added that for the project to succeed, they are now making efforts to fully involve the local communities.
“We are now changing the system by involving other partners such as community members and local leaders to ensure the trees grow and be looked after well,” Mr Giribo said.
Mr Abdullah Suuta, the chairperson of Butagaya Sub-county, said some residents were not compensated.
“They [project implementers] would have thanked me for saving them from being beaten up by residents, they just came and started planting their Bamboo trees in people’s Bibanja [plots of land] yet many were not compensated,” he said.
Mr Yafeesi Maasa, the chairperson of Buloba Village in Buikwe District, said part of the land targeted for tree planting is owned by Bujagali Energy Ltd, which doesn’t allow encroachment.
“I could not allow them to encroach on Bujagali land, there are clear demarcations and I was given a task by the managers of Bujagali Energy Ltd to ensure that there is no encroachment,” he said.
The Rotary Club of Kampala Central, under District 9231, with other partners also last month launched another tree-planting project targeting the shores of Victoria and Kyoga lakes, and River Nile banks. The shores and banks have over the years been affected by human activities such as pollution from industrial waste. River Nile is the world’s longest river and millions of people in Uganda
and in other countries depend on it for their livelihood. However, due to increasing demand for land, encroachers started claiming plots of land on both the river banks.
Some have encroached on nature conservation zones by setting up hotels and gardens. The encroachment on the lake shores and river banks has in the past sparked outrage among conservationists.