26 November 2012

Uganda: Gov't to Demarcate City Wetlands

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The Ministry of Water and Environment through the wetlands management department is working in collaboration with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the Buganda Kingdom, to survey, demarcate and delineate wetland boundaries.

This is aimed at creating wetland reserves as a measure to ensure their protection.

The commissioner in charge of wetlands Paul Mafabi said this when he led a team from the wetlands management department, KCCA and Buganda Kingdom to conduct a stock taking exercise of the activities and property that lie in wetlands of Kampala at Lubigi along the northern bypass.

He said the survey will initially cover Kampala wetlands and five municipalities that include Gulu, Bushenyi, Lira, Jinja and Mbale before it rolls out to other areas.

The team last week visited Natete, Busega, Masanafu and Kawaala, all city suburbs. They also visited Namungoona and Nansana in Wakiso district.

"Lubigi is a major wetland system that joins Mayanjo Kato that eventually drains into Lake Kyoga. The wetland is important for its rich biodiversity and especially a habitat for sitatungas and crested cranes," Mafabi said.

He said the wetland is also beneficial to the communities around as a source of domestic water and craft materials.

Mafabi stressed that building of houses in wetlands is unacceptable as it destroys the environment.

He said after stock taking of data of the wetlands, the ministry will draw a management plan with the affected people with which a cause of action will be made.

Destruction of the wetland involves clearing of wetland vegetation for cultivation of yams, maize and sugarcane, digging channels, filling with murram and construction of residential, commercial and industrial structures and sewage treatment systems.

Vincent Barugahare the senior environment officer explained that the ministry will not immediately evict and destroy structures and developments made in wetlands but will first discuss with the affected people to establish a consensus with an aim of restoring the wetlands that have been abused.

"We are not stock taking on the activities, development and property made in wetlands to destroy them but we want to reach a consensus and eventually retain what must be kept in wetlands," he said.

In some areas, the stock taking exercise went rowdy as residents protested.

Barugahare said Nasana town council has the highest encroachment on wetlands and ordered that no more sale agreements should be signed by LC officials with those buying land in wetland areas.

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