Politicians blamed for raising number of wetland settlements

By Moses Kidandi

The National Environment management Authority has blamed political leaders in different communities for fueling the occupation of wetlands across the country.

NEMA adds that because of continued settlements in wetlands,the heavy rains have ravaged settlements and displaced thousands, leaving businesses paralyzed and crops destroyed because major water bodies, including lakes Victoria (in the central region), Albert (western) and Kyoga (eastern), and several rivers, have spilled their excess water into the surrounding areas, displacing thousands of people.

According to NEMA, the existing laws on wetland encroachment and agricultural practices near the water bodies are supposed to be 30 meters away ,a warning that most communities have ignored.

NEMA’s Executive Director Okurut now says according to their investigation ,some politicians have acquired plots in various communities affected by flooding and have mobilized others to occupy the wetlands ,a move that has put several peoples lives at risk.

UPC asks government to promote environmentally friendly activities

By Daudi Zirimala

Uganda People’s Congress is making an urgent appeal to the Government to restore all our natural catchment areas like swamp lands across the country as it is our best hope to current environmental crisis.

According to UPC party Chairman Lawrence Okae the giant Swamp lands of Lwera along Kampala Masaka road are not spared either and are being damaged by those extracting sand for building.

While people struggle to make ends meet during this lock down, Uganda is again faced with a big challenge of heavy rains coupled with floods across the country; this is negatively affecting human activities.

He says UPC is on record urging both Government and the public to strategically engage in environmental friendly activities if we are to save our environment because all these are manmade actions are negatively affecting our environment and livelihood which at the same time affect the performance of our economy.

Okae says that Roads, bridges are being washed away especially in places of Kasese, Busoga and Teso Buildings like Schools, Hospitals and People’s houses have been damaged heavily across the country Normal life in such places is at standstill.

UPC sympathizes with the affected families and calls upon concerned authorities and all people of good will to come to their rescue.

SolarNow provides environmental friendly power options to farmers

By Daudi Zirimala

Farmers in Uganda can now smile after SolarNow a leading supplier of modular solar home system in Uganda pledged to provide farmers with modern irrigation solar systems to boast their productivity.

This was revealed by Chief of Operations Solar Now Lars Johannisson while receiving certification as a B corporation due to the impact Solar Now makes in the communities.

According to Lars, solar Irrigation systems the way to go because many farmers cannot wait for rainy seasons to plant their crops with affordable irrigation system Ugandans can boast agriculture.

He says SolarNow has installed solar systems to households,small businesses,schools and hospitals which has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by around 420 C02 tons.

Certified B corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance,public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

NEMA, VIVO, NEXT media partner in kaveera ban

By Deo Wasswa

State minster for water and environment Dr. Kitutu Mary Gorreth has directed National Environment Management Authority and ministry of health to put sign posts on their entry gates that prohibits people from entering their premises with polythene bags.

According to her, this should be done to implement the kavera ban as well as sending signal to people manufacturing and importing Buveras to stop it and have alternative business that can replace Kavera.

Minister made the directive during the launch of national wide campaign that will see kavera completely out of use in Uganda.

The campaign spear headed by  Vivo energy, NEMA, Next Media , Ministry of health and other partners will be involved in  sensitizing and educating Ugandans to shun the use of Buveras to live healthier and  preserve environment.

On the other hand of the event held at shell Bugolobi, the NEMA police led by Byamukama Moses  stopped  a group of more than 60 people under their umbrella Uganda plastic manufacturers and recyclers association who also had organized a meeting opposite shell  to educate people on better managing  the disposal of Kavera after its use.

The group was led by Ategeka Moses, the communication director at Uganda plastic manufacturers and recyclers’ association.

NFA demands for special environment courts

By Robert Segawa

National Forests Authority wants government to put in place a special court to handle cases related to environmental cases.  This was disclosed by Paul Buyerah Musamali the acting executive director NFA while addressing the media at the head offices in Bugolobi.

Musamali says court injunctions are one of the reasons which have hindered NFA cases against forest encroachers and illegal lumbering suspects in court.

He adds that some court cases take long to be disposed of which he said government losses millions of money and gives chance to others to continue destroying forests.
Musamali explained that NFA has organized August 6th as the day when it will roll out national wide campaign for tree planting to help replacing those lost to illegal lumbering. NFA says in conjunction with Uganda National Roads Authority it will distribute free tree seedlings to people to plant trees along all major roads in Uganda.

Parliament closes in on government officials asking favors from investors

By Edwin Muhumuza

Members of parliament have called for the streamlining and publication of all incentives and benefits  of investors in the ongoing amendments to the investment bill.

This after it was revealed that some government officials were going ahead to ask for favors from investors in return of granting them licenses for operation.Their concerns were raised as the State Minister of Finance for Investment, Hon.Evelyn Anite accompanied by Investment Authority Executive Director Jolly Kaguhangire ,appeared before the committee of finance.

Last week, among the things highlighted on the floor of parliament was that the law focused on the investment authority yet there were outstanding issues pertaining the investor.Now  the parliamentary committee of finance headed by,Hon.Henry Musasizi, is trying to conclude with the review of the investment code bill which seeks to  amend the 1992 investment Act.

Members of the committee  have deferred debate on the Investment Code Bill aimed at ensuring a conducive environment for investors. Amos Lugolobi (Ntenjeru South), a member of the Parliament committee says there should be incentives for strategic areas of investments, including VAT Exemptions on, supply of services such as feasibility studies/designs, earth moving equipment, construction materials, to a developer of an industrial park, whose investment is at least $200million among others.

Patrick Nsamba(Kasanda North) adds that the Investment code bill should include, the environment of operation ,handling issues such as, investment guarantees, competition, openness in trade and investment, investor rights, treatment ie; the local investor versus the foreign investor, issues to do with protecting capital investment, repatriation of capital and assets, protection of intellectual property, and financial transparency.


Experts worry that over use of pesticides is posing danger to human health

The application of hazardous pesticides is on the rise in the country, slowly causing damage to the environment and human health.  Increase in pesticide use is attributed to the threat of pests to commercial crops like tomatoes and Irish potatoes among others.

But Joshua Sikhu Okonya, a research associate with International Potato Center’s Crop and Systems Sciences Division says that the absence of extension services and other safeguards is making the increased use of pesticides disastrous.

Okonya, who has conducted a number of surveys around pesticide use in the country, says farmers have tended to apply pesticides even at times when the threat is not that enormous.  He says dealers tend to profiteer in selling pesticides to unsuspecting farmers.

Okonya’s most recent studies involved pesticide use and knowledge of smallholder potato farmers in Uganda involving districts in the Albert, South Western highlands and eastern highlands.

45 percent of the farmers according to findings of the survey received information about which pesticide to use from other farmers. Only two percent of them received information directly from agricultural extension officers.

When it came to the doses of pesticides, most farmers in the southwestern highlands and eastern highlands relied mostly on their own previous experience.

On average, findings of the study published by BioMed Research International indicated that agro-input shops were the primary source of pesticides in the three agro ecological zones, followed by general household merchandise.

Farmers in all the three agro ecological zones reported some health-related complications resulting from pesticide use. All those that got infections according to Okonya thought it was normal.

Okonya says crops can only be sprayed against fungicides and pests when the perceived damage is likely to be above a given threshold. He adds that other control measures like Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be applied other than depending on costly pesticides and fungicides.

A study commissioned by Ministry Agriculture in 2014 found that pesticide use was largely poorly regulated. It said monitoring and regulation of the sectors require USD 15 million (53 billion Shillings).

The environment study conducted by Nelson and Associates Environment consultancy said there is lack of human resources to inspect and enforce regulations.

National environment Management Authority has warned that the contamination of water bodies with pesticides can pose a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems and drinking water resources.

Source Of Pesticides

There are no agricultural pesticides manufactured or formulated in Uganda. Suppliers of imported pesticides come mainly from India, China, Taiwan, Israel, Europe or branch offices of international companies in Kenya.

There are a number of wholesalers, who distribute to small scale stockists, mostly in Kampala but also in the interior. Container Village, a section near the Balikuddembe market in Kampala, is home to thriving business for agricultural pesticides and fungicides and other agricultural inputs

Nelson and Associates Environment Consultancy found another challenge with how to dispose agrochemicals and generally pesticides. Only UPDF-owned Luwero Industries would meet requirements for incinerating pesticides.

Ministry of Agriculture had reportedly been granted permission to utilize Luwero Industries facility for pesticide disposal at 1500 Shillings per kilo of pesticide incinerated. The ministry found the cost to high.


Report indicates that 1.7 million children die due to environmental pollution

Second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene kill at least one in four children every year, according to two new reports published by the World Health Organisation-WHO today.

The first report’ Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia; are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

But failure to take appropriate action has resulted into the death of 1.7 million children annually, according to the reports.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says such harmful exposures often start in the mother’s womb increasing the risk of premature birth, an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” Dr Chan says in a statement this morning. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

A companion report, don’t pollute my future! The Impact of the Environment on Children’s Health, shows that up to 570 000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to air pollution, and second-hand smoke. Another 361,000 die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The report adds that 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity and 200 000 deaths of children die from malaria which could also be prevented through reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage. A similar number of children die from poisoning, falls, and drowning.

According to the reports, children are equally facing emerging environmental hazards, such as electronic and electrical waste (like old mobile phones) that is improperly recycled, exposing them to toxins which can lead to reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage, and cancer.

There are also increasing rates of asthma in children due to climate change and rising levels of temperatures and carbon dioxide. Children are also exposed to harmful chemicals through food, water, air and products around them.

“A polluted environment results in a heavy toll on the health of our children,” Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health says adding that  improving water quality or using cleaner fuels will result in massive health benefits.





NEMA admits they are still many illegal sand miners

The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has admitted that several companies are mining sand around Lake Victoria illegally.

Officials from the environmental watch body told MPs on the Natural Resources committee today that a study done in October 2015 indicated that the said companies were illegally mining sand and have degraded areas surrounding the lake in Mpigi and Kalungu districts.

Some of the companies named include Lukaya Sand Dealers Company, owned by Sun Xianzhong and Zheng Junqing, Chinese nationals, whose permit was cancelled for non-compliance in October 2015.

In October and November 2015, NEMA also cancelled the permits of Tesco Industries Limited, owned by businessman Drake Lubega; Aqua World Limited and Sim Construction Limited owned by Pastor Samuel Kakande; Capital Estates owned by John Ssebalamu; He Sha Duo Company Limited and Zhong Industries.

Dr. Jerome Sebadduka from NEMA says there have been several enforcement operations in Lwera wetland, which has prompted many of the companies to comply eventually.

Dr. Tom Okurut, Executive Director NEMA admits that several companies have blatantly failed to comply with guidelines on their permits. He says the lack of adequate staff to monitor these activities has hampered their operations.
However, legislators, including Syda Bbumba and Alex Byarugaba, accused NEMA of laxity in its watchdog role on protection of wetlands in the country.

Okurut, in response, shifted blame on the local governments which are mandated to monitor any activities in wetlands.
NEMA says plans are underway to draft guidelines to regulate sand mining activities in wetlands.



Uganda in danger of losing all its forests if trend continues

By Annah Nafula

Deteriorating forest cover in Uganda worries key players in the country. According to National Forestry Authority statistics Uganda faces danger of losing all its forest cover by 2040 if the deforestation is not curbed.

Paul Mafabi the director of environment affairs noted that many Ugandan livelihoods are dependent on forests but little attention has been paid to the ecological values of forest like their function in agriculture.
Mafabi challenged people to quit blame games in the struggle to restore forest cover in Uganda. He said, “Uganda is ready to implement activities to curb temperature rise through promoting biodiversity and agro forestry among other activities.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization country representative Dr Alhajji Jallow who was representing United Nations Resident Coordinator, worried that Uganda is already facing the dangers of this massive deforestation through climate change. He challenged Ugandans to be mindful of the future generations.
Jallow called upon Uganda as a strong member of the UN to preach the gospel especially on natural resources and combating climate change.