By Namara Carol BFM/NECJOGHA, BUSHENYI
Kampala, Uganda – Residents of three villages in the south western Uganda district of Sheema have voluntarily left a wetland in which they had been illegally growing crops and planted eucalyptus.
The exercise was led by a non-governmental organization called the Uganda Citizens Alliance (UCA) which visited the area in June and warned residents either to voluntarily leave the Orusindura wetland or be forcefully evicted. The encroachers had shifted the boundary stones of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). The residents who voluntarily left the wetland were from the villages of Katuba I, II, III in Muhito ward, Kitagata Town council.
UCA in collaboration with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is carrying out a campaign to restore wetlands in the greater Bushenyi which includes the districts of Bushenyi, Sheema, Mitooma, Rubirizi and Buhweju. NWSC has a water plant at Kitagata in Sheema District and is therefore interested in protecting the water catchment areas so that the plants does not run out of water to pump for domestic use.
During the operation UCA was with the Resident District Commissioner, Sheema, Kyerere Frank, the District Police Commander (DPC), Scovia Birungi and the District Natural Resources Officer, Turyatunga Francis.
Among the crops the residents had planted were bananas, sugarcane and coffee but some had also planted eucalyptus which environmentalists say dries up wetlands.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UCA, Deo Atuhaire said that although there were laws against environmental degradation enforcement was weak.
“I am happy that today the government has shown its authority. Government has laws but the implementing agencies are very weak,” Atuhaire said.
Atuhaire warned that UCA will be returning later to make sure other residents who are encroaching on the wetland also leave.