Conserve nature to improve livelihoods

What you need to know:

People have the power in their hands to conserve nature but the powers have been violated for personal interests

Nature is roaring and the impacts are yet to be felt even harder. The toll humans have had on the natural world is incredible and it has to absolutely reciprocate.

People have the power in their hands to conserve nature but the powers have been violated for personal interests and at the end of the day our actions bite back, humans have become the most significant manipulators of the natural world due to pollution, massive deforestation, improper disposal of plastic waste, destruction of wetlands, and contamination of water bodies.

The unsettled nature is biting back through climate change. These consequences include; disease outbreaks, hailstorms, heat overload, changing weather patterns, drop in water levels, and increased frequency of extreme weather events like floods, as well as drought, whose social economic impacts make communities very vulnerable.

Key sectors such as agriculture, health, water resources, wetlands, and forests are vulnerable to these climate change impacts in Uganda.

Furthermore, conservation estimates suggest that the cost of unmet water demand by 2050 could reach $5.5 billion, with the largest losses expected in the Lake Victoria, Albert Nile, and Lake Kyoga Watersheds.

In the past, annual economic losses from droughts have been up to $237 million. Similarly, future droughts will likely have significant negative effects on water supply in Uganda.

More so Climate Risk Profile: Uganda (2020) report indicated that Uganda is at risk to natural disasters. The country experiences extreme weather events which lead to mudslides, landslides and flooding, particularly for the country’s mountain regions and related districts such as Mbale in the Mt Elgon region.

Extreme events leading to disasters such as floods, droughts, and landslides have increased over the last 30 years.

Flooding has become more frequent, largely due to destruction of wetlands, intense rainfall finds no ample place to be harbored. Over the past two decades, an average of 200,000 Ugandans are affected each year by disasters.

On September 17, 2021, Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) through its assessments, reported flooding events affecting the districts of Kapchorwa, Sironko, Mbale, Bukedea, Zombo, Kapelebyong and Katakwi.

The floods, landslides and hailstorm episodes affected seven districts and  left one registered death from Kapchorwa District (male adult), Kapsinde sub-county due to landslides, 72 people injured, 597 individuals homeless, 5 individuals hospitalised, 51 individuals evacuated, 308 families displaced, 416 houses completely destroyed, 829 houses partially damaged. Also, three health facilities were affected due to the floods, 61 water facilities and six schools affected in Bukedea, Kapelebyong, Katakwi and Oyam districts. Despite all the above catastrophes people have continued to engage in activities that unsettle nature.

Increased intensity of heavy rainfall has led to greater impact of floods and is causing more damage due to expanded infrastructure, human settlement and general development of the country, due to rampant floods in major cities such as Kampala, Mbarara, Mbale and among others.

Government should prioritize constructing proper drainage tunnels, most preferably underground flood ways and preventing rivers and lakes prone to floods from bursting their banks through construction of levees and reservoirs.

I urge the government and numerous stakeholders to champion and support campaigns against environmental degradation through rejuvenating penalties because enough conservation awareness has been created but Ugandans are responding at a low rate.

There has to be a way to draw people in so that they can learn about it in a more value-neutral way through restoration, reforestation and a forestation of hilly and mountainous areas.

To be able to achieve sustainable development, Uganda’s economic development framework and its poverty eradication strategies have to consider environmental conservation through enforcement of The National Environmental Act 2019, The Integrated Water Management and Development Project, The convention on biodiversity agreement, Trees for Global Benefits (TGB) and Sustainable Development Goal 6&13.

Kembabazi Babra

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