Over twenty people have lost their lives in the floods that ravaged Mbale District. This is not the first time that Uganda is facing the challenge of floods and landslides which claim the lives of many Ugandans. Even when Uganda is the pearl Africa with unique climate and nature that can’t be found anywhere in the world but such calamities are now part of our history.
There are days when it rains in Kampala city and the houses are filled up with water, this doesn’t happen in Kampala only but also in other towns upcountry. As this continue to happen, there are no efforts apparently being put to save the situation meaning more people are likely to die in the time to come especially in those areas already affected and some other areas that could experience the same. This however isn’t happening only in Uganda, countries like South Africa have faced the worst with thousands of people being burried alive by landslides and property worth millions of money vanishing.
Ironically we have turned the messages and campaigns about Environmental protection and preservation into a song that can be sang for a few days and later be forgotten. Even when we’ve a number of authorities in place mandated by the constitution to foster these campaigns and cause serious impact on ground. We are still doing badly in as far as protecting the natural resources is concerned and nobody seem to be bothered about it with factories standing in swamps and hotels. We also have a number of laws that could be applied to protect our most treasured natural resources if we may put them to use. The pressure that has been put on our Environment in the past few years is alarming and disturbing, it put all our lives at risk. People are draining swamps and others setting up buildings and factories as if it’s no body ‘s business. The pressure has now been put on the RDCs who the president has directed that they should make sure that the Environment is protected in their Districts of operation.
The RDCs have tried but ofcource with so many challenges, some being taken to court as individuals and others facing other challenges that come with evicting stubborn Ugandans. The fight against environmental degradation cannot be fought by the RDCs alone, first of all Ugandans should first be willing to protect the Environment and then the work will be very easy.
The members of Parliament instead of joining the fight to protect the Environment, they’re are instead asking for compensation to the families affected by floods and also asking government build houses for them so that they can be located, They’re not proposing the permanent solutions that can stop the floods and climate change hazards. None of the members of Parliament agitating for Environmental protection. I think the Members of Parliament are not aware that some Ugandans are draining swamps and cutting down trees because they’re not aware about the impact of those activities against the Environment, they have not received enough sensitisation about Environment preservation and protection. If the Members of Parliament could join to sensitize the public I’m sure Ugandans would even join in to help agencies in reporting people who are arrogantly going into attacking our most treasured natural resources.
In the forums, I have been in, some NGOs have reported that most people are destroying the environment because of poverty. Ugandans have not yet embraced commercial agriculture so that they can earn some money and also have something to eat. They have got stuck in the traditional way of doing agriculture. The government agencies which are mandated to protect the Environment should also put focus on poverty eradication. The new government program of PDM will help elevate many Ugandans out of poverty if they embrace it. The PDM is going down to the parishes and also targeting the people who are doing badly in terms of income . Some of those people are the ones involved in attacking swamps and wetlands if they make use of the money being brought to the parish engage in entrepreneurship or other activities that bring money, then they will reduce the pressure on the environment. In areas of Kigezi especially Kabale when the government announced plans of evicting from the swamps, verbal protests started. Up to now when you mention anything related to removing them from swamps they can seriously rebel against you, to them that’s the only source of income means of survival. it should however be noted that Rubanda District has ever lost eleven people who died as a result of floods that happened in Nyamweru Subcounty.
It’s high time, we combine efforts as Ugandans to up a spirited fight against environmental degradation. We have lost so many people and also picked lessons. Just like Ugandans joined hands in the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic so we should do the same against environmental degradation. We should consider the current problem of Environmental degradation as a pandemic which needs everyone’s support and contribution. We are being jelous to the future generations by destroying the environment because if our fore fathers protected the Environment then why should we do the opposite? How will our children survive on a bare Land? I don’t think they will ever forgive us. The human selfishness about gathering alot of wealth should not make us so blind to the extent of forgetting about our own safety and the generations to come, The Churches, the media and all stakeholders should henceforth carry the messages of protecting and preserving the environment, Ugandans should also be willing to Join hands or else we shall all perish.
The writer is a deputy RDC Kyenjojo District.
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