The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, has blamed corruption and the low number of environment protection police officers in the country for the disastrous aftermath of floods caused by heavy rains.
Cheptoris was speaking during the beginning of the Manifesto Implementation Week that saw environment and water agencies explain the challenges being faced, progress made in the country and the prospects.
Quoting the progress report from his ministry, Cheptoris said all wetlands were mapped and coded. He said over 1,400 wetlands were demarcated and about 26, 000 hectares restored.
But despite these efforts, there has been land preparation for rice growing in wetlands like Lwera. Local methods like hand hoes and modern methods like mechanization practices are applied and these further damage wetlands.
The ministry now recommends institutional strengthening, environment protection and water catchment management. It also wants institutionalized linkages and coordination of wetlands management with other MDAs such as NEMA, Ministry of Lands, and Ministry of Local Government, police and UPDF to address the issue of environmental degradation.
Furthermore, it says there’s a need to improve law enforcement and awareness and improve forest law enforcement and governance through professional investigation and prosecution of environmental and forestry crimes. Furthermore, increase public engagement and awareness of the dangers of deforestation, climate disasters and opportunities for environmental restoration.
The Executive Director of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Dr Akankwasa Barirega, said this, unfortunately, comes with climate change effects.
“I appeal to people living on wetlands, floodplains, and hill slopes to vacate immediately. At a time like this, floods have destroyed homes, paralyzed transport and displaced farmers,” Dr Barirega said.
The challenge could be worsened by illegal sand mining said to be exacerbated by impunity which affects ecosystem restoration.
The manifesto implementation week continues for the next 10 working days. Various ministries, departments and agencies are expected to present their progress reports.