2 February 2010

Uganda: Wetlands Down 30 Percent in 15 Years

Kampala — UGANDA has lost 30% of its wetlands in the last 15 years, according to the Wetlands Commissioner Paul Mafabi.

Mafabi said wetlands covered 15% of Uganda in 1994 and this has reduced to only 10% in 2008.

This, Mafabi added, was affecting Lake Victoria.

He also said the wetlands around Lake Kyoga were disappearing at an alarming rate.

"We have lost most of the seasonal wetlands around Lake Victoria and Kyoga," Mafabi said.

"As the water levels recede, the encroachers move deeper into the wetlands."

He was speaking during activities to mark the UN World Wetlands Day at Luzira in Kampala.

The activities included a tour of Luzira's wetlands, tree planting and drama by Nkumba University.

As a result of encroachment on the wetlands, environment minister Maria Mutagamba said, the water treatment costs at Ggaba water works have increased four-fold over the last 10 years.

Fish is also declining due to loss of breeding grounds leading to loss of income and employment, she added.

Mutagamba noted that there was increased flooding and damage to infrastructure, and loss of biological diversity.

"We must act and avert a catastrophe," she said, reiterating for all wetland encroachers to vacate the wetlands by the end of this month.

Other interventions include the creation of awareness to spur participation of the communities in wetlands management, gazetting the wetlands, and ensuring that investments comply with the environmental requirement.

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