The ministry of Water and Environment and partners this Monday started marking the second edition of the Uganda Water and Environment Week.
Policy makers, technical specialists, academicians, public and private sector institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs and the public are using this year's 'water week' to observe International Forest Day, World Water Day, and World Meteorological Day.
Speaking at the water resources institute in Entebbe on Monday, Water and Environment minister Sam Cheptoris focused on the week's theme: "Water and Environment; a strategic driver in attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030."
"We are focusing on how water and environment contribute to society and how society can enhance its stewardship role and contribute effectively to achievement of SDGs related to water and environment.
"As Uganda seeks to industrialise and meet its national development goals, water and environment resources management will be critical to ensure steady growth of the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors," Cheptoris said.
Aisha Alibai, public relations manager at National Forest Authority (NFA), said their drive to have all Ugandans plant trees has seen the distribution of seedlings free of charge country wide.
"We are here to create awareness to all persons living in Uganda about the importance of planting trees and maintaining the environment, it is the responsibility of all of us to see that we conserve and maintain the environment. Climate change does not affect individuals but it affects all of us, so come to NFA and get free seedlings and technical advice," she said.
Alibai added that anyone willing to help restore any of the country's degraded central forest reserves, should go to NFA for assistance. As part of activities marking the week, an exhibition designed to create awareness is ongoing. These are also high level panel discussions, keynote addresses, paper presentations, side events, practical training, exhibitions, excursions and community activities planned for this year's event.
Prominent leaders and personalities are also lined up including Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of parliament; Charles Peter Mayiga, Buganda kingdom premier, Bishop George Bagamuhunda of Kigezi Diocese and Patrick Bitature, chairman, Private Sector Foundation. Dr Callist Tindimugaya, commissioner for water resources planning and regulation applauded the unrelenting support of partners.
"Last year we had 350 participants, but this year we are overwhelmed with over 1,000 participants. This shows that Ugandans have picked interest in the event. For the first time we have sponsors reaching out and asking if they can join us. Last year we were the ones looking for them," Tindimugaya said.
He said the organizing committee had received over 140 abstracts from interested participants, and these all contributed to the rich content to be delivered during the 2019 UWEWK.