Environmental abuse in Nakawa lowers govt performance

By Ben Ssebuguzi 

There is a line of evidence that disadvantaged individuals tend to be more directly dependent on their environment and more vulnerable to environmental problems. As a result, they should have an incentive to protect it by becoming sensitive to people who abuse the environment. 

When we have clean air and water, we are assured of a good climate and enough food which makes the survival of ordinary people easy. That’s why individuals are worried about local and global environmental degradation which is taking a toll order. 

Environmental management and protection shouldn’t be politicised but taken as a sustainable direction for our country because severe drought affects everyone. 

Despite a few political actors who are scolding the action of NEMA, an environmental body mandated by the law to evict illegal occupants of Lubigi wetlands in Nansana, but majority of Ugandans agree with NEMA’s operations of saving our country from adverse effects of climate change because protection of wetlands helps in the country production capacity as they filter waste from industries.

In fact, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s wrath against people who illegally encroach on wetlands is commended because he is aware that Ugandans have been yearning to see government action on environmental protection.

The President is also aware that the continued rampant environmental abuse can affect his re-election in 2026 simply because the misconception of the environment by the public can ignite rampant internet use about government performance just like it has happened with the Parliament exhibition which affects government popularity. 

The second line of evidence has shown that there is a negative correlation between economic development and environmental issues where studies have shown that residents from the wealthy class are less concerned about the environment which requires regular audits to establish their compliance with the guidelines of the environmental impact assessment plans.

Office of the National Chairman (ONC),  an office of the President which is managed by Hajjat Hadijah Namyalo has been concerned about the level of environmental degradation in Uganda. The regrettable bit is that it is the rich who are causing havoc on the wetlands of Kampala with impunity. Our work has been to work with the necessary stakeholders to play their role which sometimes hasn’t been that easy because the abusers of wetlands are sometimes powerful individuals who despise local authority laws. 

A case in point is the Kisaasi incident in Nakawa Division at the mosque near the flyover on the Northern bypass, the selfish developer has fought Mother Nature to the detriment of our new road and the neighbours who are now living on the peripherals. Attempts to establish his motives fell on deaf ears.

In a nutshell, the increased public literacy in the country and technology have made people learn about local and global environmental degradation, if they see when the government is not responding to the abusers, they may think that the government cannot provide the basic living conditions hence affecting government trust. 

I therefore recommend all stakeholders like NEMA, and local councils to always embrace those with good hearts who come to support their activities. I extend my gratitude to  Nakawa town clerk and Physical planner for embracing people who approach them and pray that all other local governments should be willing to welcome environmental queries in order to put in line what has gone wrong. 

NEMA should also cause mass awareness in all media outlets both in English and local languages to inform the people about the dangers of wetlands abuse on top of putting demarcation on critical wetlands in order to reduce encroachment. 

Wetlands in Uganda continue to be degraded and the current area of wetlands across the country. Approximately Uganda had 30,000 km2 of wetlands by 2000. But this area has since reduced to 22,500km2 implying a 25% loss in the past two decades. This calls for a multidisciplinary approach to work together to fight wetlands encroachment because they are great assets crucial for African development. 

The writer is Head of Research at Office of the National Chairman of NRM (ONC) in Kyambogo

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