Yesterday, Uganda joined the rest of the world to observe World Earth Day. The day that is celebrated every April 23 is mainly about environmental protection. This year's theme was, "Restore Our Earth" focusing on natural processes and emerging green technologies to restore the world's ecosystems.
Restoring our earth could take many forms with environmental conservation high up on that list. Although this day is said to be one of the largest civic observances in the world, it is unfortunate that such days go highly unnoticed by majority of our populace despite it's significance to our livelihood.
We must pay attention to the ecosystem and how the choices we make either negatively or positively affect it. Uganda is rife with environmental abuse in form of encroachment on wetlands and abuse of water catchment areas, poor use and maintenance of water sources, poor garbage disposal, among others.
One only need walk through our cities to see and smell the mess that comes from poor waste disposal and also hear how city authorities are struggling to come up with proper and sustainable structures for waste disposal. Even though the abuse occasioned on the environment and entire ecosytem is immense, it is not too late to be more intentional about reversing the state of affairs.
In an April 22 story titled, "Ministry seeks public holiday for tree planting," we reported that the Ministry of Water and Environment has petitioned President Museveni and Parliament, proposing that May 20 should be gazetted as a public holiday and national tree planting day. While this might seem uneventful, if implemented by majority of the populace, it will yield results.
Restoring the earth through environment conservation calls for behavioural change which will only be achieved through sensitisation and awareness campaigns on the same. It will also necessitate government and all stakeholders to to pool resources for this cause. Planting trees is a good move, but it is only a drop in the ocean of change that must occur for any real impact made.
A 2008 publication by the National Association of Professional Environmentalist titled,"Environmental abuse in Uganda 2008; Is it Lack of Institutional Capacity or Political Will?', proposes some useful recommendations which include; need for professional and political commitment within government and its associated institutions to enforce and implement national plans,policy and legal frameworks, need to streamline the various roles, responsibilities and service provision from the different government organs and build capacity, both human and financial, to enable implementation of national plans and enforcement of the national laws, regulations and guidelines.
Even with these recommendations, the onus is on every individual to ensure that the environment is not abused. This will be done by being conscious of daily choices as trivial as making sure all other waste is disposed of properly, stop perpetuating wetland abuse, and the like.