What happened to govt promise to end kavera use? 

Polythene bags (Kavera) and plastic bottles pile in a drainage channel in Kiwempe Zone, Makindye Division, Kampala, on August 4, 2021. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

The issue: Kavera use. 

Our view:  With government making fresh commitments in 2021 to put an end to kavera use, this newspaper was afraid that no concrete action would be taken.

Last month marked two years since Cabinet announced a resolution to ban polythene bags, commonly known as kavera.

The decision announced by State minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar, banning the production, importation and use of polythene bags in Uganda, was the second the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government was announcing.

It has been more than 14 years since the July 2009 total ban on plastic bags “for the conveyance of goods and liquid to protect our environment”.

Kaveras are the most commonly used shopping bags in Uganda. Goods in any quantity, ranging from drinking water in small shops at the trading centres, to food in restaurants and groceries in large supermarket chains are served in kaveras. The result has been a land covered in kavera.

The poor disposal of polythene bags means an environmental danger to both humans and animals.

Scientists warn that micro-plastics entering the human body through ingestion or inhalation can lead to an array of health implications, including inflammation, genotoxicity and oxidative stress.

With agriculture being the backbone of our economy, polythene bags do not only degrade our soil, but also endanger our animals that sometimes get entangled, or accidentally eat the polythene.

This is not to mention the toxic substances that are released into the soil when kaveras get in contact with sunlight. When burnt, these kaveras also discharge toxic substance into the air, causing air pollution.

With government making fresh commitments in 2021 to put an end to kavera use, this newspaper was afraid that no concrete action would be taken. 

A story by this newspaper at the time revealed that absence of alternatives to polythene bags was among the biggest hindrances to the first ban. 

We suggested that alternative eco-friendly bags made from material such as fabric, natural fibre and paper should be made readily available and affordable to the public.

Besides regulation, government should systematically phase out the use of polythene bags so as to limit the impact of the elimination of the industry on the economy.

A lesson learnt from hasty implementation of the first ban was that investors who had sunk in a lot of money into the industry had not been thought of, or the jobs that were going to be lost. 

Finally, there must be a deliberate campaign to enlighten Ugandans on the dangers of using polythene bags, so as to change their mindset.

Otherwise, pronouncements without alternatives, we said at the time, will lead us back to where we started: Another proclamation.