Urban Development: Leading cause of Kampala’s disappearing wetlands
Uganda is a beautiful country, gifted with numerous natural resources, one of the most profound being wetlands. These have, however, become increasingly threatened by the increasing urban development especially in the capital, Kampala.
Encroachers in broad day light take on wetlands without permission from the Authorities and do all sorts of activities on them; especially construction of buildings and other facilities.
National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the government environment protection body often times is caught in between conservation and human activities.
Cabinet in 2014 issued a directive to NEMA to cancel land titles acquired in wetlands after the 1995 constitution.
In 2018 alone NEMA canceled 600 land titles in Kampala wetlands as a way of executing its mandate of ensuring a clean and healthy environment.
In fact, the then Executive Director of NEMA Dr Tom Okuruk stated “The titles were issued illegally on public land, they have all been canceled and owners should immediately leave the wetlands for public good”.
The Wetland Policy of Uganda provides for strategies for the conservation and protection of wetlands, for example; wetlands used as water sources should be protected, stop drainage of wetlands, sustainable use of wetlands, destroyed wet lands should be recovered.
Wetlands are distinct ecosystem that flood water permanently or seasonally. They filter water from pollution and store water before releasing it into lakes and rivers.
Some of the wetlands in Subject are Bwaise wetland, Luzira, Bugolobi, Kinawataka, Busega, Nakivubo, Zirimiti, Kyankima, Bugolobi, Nakawa.
A report from the Ministry of Water and Environment indicated that Uganda lost almost 30 percent of its wetlands between 1994 and 2008.
The growing population in Kampala a major contributor to the disappearance of wetlands because people need more space for their settlement.
The population of Ugandans living in Kampala increases also the fact that lack knowledge about wetlands and their use.
As wetlands are disappearing, Kampala is facing the consequences like floods during the rainy seasons which at times results into loss of lives, crops, property, disease out breaks because of the dirty water.
Today, wetlands are turned into industrial areas for investors to manufacture products. Most of this land is handed to them by government.
In 2019 President Museveni ordered investors in wetlands and forest reserves across the country to vacate as a way of protecting the environment.
The President also urged law enforcers to sensitize the natives to leave wetlands voluntarily.
As a conservationist, my appeal to the government is to find ways how development can be done without encroaching wetlands.