Involve every citizen in protection of environment

A section of the Nakalama-Tirinyi-Mbale road that was cut off by floods.

What you need to know:

The issue: Environment protection.

Our view: At the end of the day, the environment is everyone’s concern, but to make people realise this is a battle. The ministry and the agencies should, therefore, be willing and ready to fight this battle.

Experience shows that when people believe that the hard work of growing character or improving one’s lifestyle starts with themselves, there is likely to be success.

It is why citizens must be a crucial part of any plans the government wants to implement successfully, including saving the environment. The Daily Monitor in a story America, EU pledged more help to protect the environment, reported that the two agencies promised to continue supporting the government in its environmental conservation efforts.

Part of these efforts include raising resources for the cause, partnering with different stakeholders and raising awareness about climate change and biodiversity. All these are good. But what might be most important is what Ms Caroline Adriaensen said about involving people. “It’s a global challenge that can’t really be tackled in isolation. It requires the collective efforts of all the partners and segments of society,” she said.

With all the efforts that the agencies are planning to put into it, if the common man and woman are not made part of the plan and process, the ideas might not deliver sustainable successes.

For many Ugandans, environmental conservation is not a priority. Putting food on the tables of their families is most important and if the environment suffers, including trees being cut for charcoal, animals killed to extinction and carbon emissions growing by the day, they could care less. Their worries and troubles of surviving to see another day drown out many other things. It is why it is important that the ministry and the agencies start with the common citizen.

First they should seek to understand how the people view the environment, if they understand how their actions affect it, and what they have been doing in their own ways to protect it. Thereafter they can come up with programmes that create awareness at the basic level that the people will understand and appreciate.

They should make leaders and respected individuals within the villages and communities take up the roles of educating and supporting the people to improve their environment because people tend to follow others. The more respected and liked a person is, the greater the chances of the communities embracing what needs to be done.

Finally, the teams should understand that many of the ideas they propose might make life harder for people, especially if they have to change their way of life.  They should therefore, be open to resistance and have various alternatives that the people are willing to give a shot. At the end of the day, the environment is everyone’s concern, but to make people realise this is a battle. The ministry and the agencies should, therefore, be willing and ready to fight this battle.

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