31 January 2006

Uganda: Evict New Encroachers


Kampala — ENVIRONMENT minister Kahinda Otafiire has directed the National Forest Authority to halt fresh encroachment into forest reserves.

Ten days ago President Museveni ordered the NFA to halt evictions of encroachers but his statement was misinterpreted and fresh encroachers flooded into forests in Kibaale, Mayuge and Kome island.

Uganda is presently in the grip of a severe drought that has caused water levels in Lake Victoria to drop alarmingly and Umeme to increase loadshedding.

The drought is partly due to global warming and partly to deforestation that has reduced rainfall and water retention in Uganda. If Uganda loses more forest cover, we may lose Lake Victoria.

There are presently 180,000 encroachers in 506 forest reserves in Uganda. The NFA should respect the President's directive that they be allowed to remain for the time being but last week's fresh encroachers should be immediately evicted.

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