What you need to know:
- In June 2022, President Museveni ordered all encroachers across the country to get out of wetlands.
President Museveni has sent a team to Western Uganda to monitor the implementation of his directive on Wetlands.
Maj Martha Asiimwe, the head of RDCs Secretariat in the Office of the President, told this publication on Sunday that they were sent by the president to monitor how RDCs are implementing the assignment given to them to tackle looming wetland degradation.
“President Museveni issued a directive which we must implement. We are assessing the damage and sitting with teams in respective districts to see how the directive can be implemented to protect wetlands and keep them intact and also restore those that have been destroyed so they can regenerate,” Major Asiimwe said.
“We are moving to all wetlands and taking stock of what our people are doing in these wetlands. And we are not forcing them out of wetlands. We want those that have crops to harvest first and then we stop them from coming back,” she added.
Major Asiimwe also explained that they are using the rainy season to assess the damage and plan on what to do because that’s when people are not using the wetlands.
“During the rainy season, you will not see people in wetlands because that’s when the wetlands have flooded and people are up in the hills waiting to come back during the dry season. We want to use this opportunity to encourage them not to come back. When nature forces people out, we come in and take forte because we have agreed not to force them out,” she explained.
She urged residents to use wetlands sustainably by carrying out activities that don’t harm the ecosystem like fishing and extracting mulches, which demonstrate utilization of wetlands for common good.
“Yesterday in Bushenyi, I saw a man getting mudfish from the wetland. He told me how he is making money. Another one was getting mulches for his garden. These were not hurting the wetlands. Wetlands bring money and also support the ecosystem. Destroying them is bad!” she urged
The Bushenyi Resident District Commissioner, Mr Robert Atuhaire said the wetlands are being degraded at a higher rate and it is only the Presidential directive that will save them because very few people are willing to protect the environment.
He asked those that are involved in activities that destroy wetlands to get out before the law forces them out.
In June 2022, President Museveni ordered all encroachers across the country to get out of wetlands. During the 2022/23 financial year budget speech, Mr Museveni said there would be no negotiations with encroachers, who have deliberately invaded wetlands and settled there.
The President would also maintain that people who were forced into wetlands by colonial governments would be compensated while those that willfully settled there would be kicked out without being compensated. However, this was not the first time the president was issuing such orders as several others had been issued years before.