December 2, 2020

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Parliament Tasked to Fast-track Passing of New Laws on Wetland Conservation

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Civil Society Organizations have asked Government through Ministry of Water and Environment, and Parliament to fast track the approval of amendments in the National Policy and wetlands laws passed more than 20 years ago to fit in the current situation.

The wetlands policy put in place in 1994 was aimed at promoting conservation of wetlands in order to sustain their value for the present and future well-being of the population.

However, for over 23 years, there has been no review of the old policy or formulation of a separate law governing wetlands management in Uganda despite their increased encroachment and destruction.

To address this policy gap, the Ecological Christian Organisation together with Partners for Resilience in collaboration with other organizations and Ministry of Water have since 2017 been  reviewing this policy to update so it matches the current challenges facing wetlands and now waiting for Parliament and government approval.

These  organizations under their umbrella body of Partners for Resilience (PfR) led  by Wetlands International, the Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO), and CARE International contend that if amendments are not timely addressed, the entire  health and sustainability of Uganda’s economy will be put at risk with very low resilience capability.

According to Racheal Kyozira Kaleebi, the Cordaid Uganda Program Manager Resilience, wetlands are amongst the most productive of the world’s ecosystems providing essential services such as water, food, construction materials, transport, and coastline protection, as well as opportunities for tourism and recreation, which are also defined as ecosystem services.

“The current rate of wetland degradation in Uganda calls for fast-tracking the wetlands policy, paying attention to; climate change adaptation, ecosystem management,  restoration, and disaster risk reduction while putting people at the center,” she adds.

According to Anthony Wolimbwa, the head of Programs Ecological Christian Organisation has explained that if approved, the new laws on wetlands will enable the wetland departments at the Ministry of Water and Environment to carry out more effective enforcement and compliance in the conservation and management of wetlands in Uganda.

“The new laws will also promote private sector investment along the green growth, pathway and social equity mainstreaming in wetland, management, besides recognition of key gender concerns especially the rights of women in wetlands management, provision of incentives (carbon credits, payment for ecosystem services, polluter pay principle) for sustainable wetland management activities in Uganda,” he says.

He adds that it’s very important to prioritize and consider wetlands as a key natural resource in the fight against climate change and key ingredient in the industrialization drive of Uganda.

Statistics show that since 1995, Uganda has lost more than 6% of its total wetland area from about 13% to currently 8.4% (205,212 square kilometres). The loss has been more significant around Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono posting a loss of 9,661 ha per annum between 1995 and 2010 that represents 14% decline.

This loss has been more significant around Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono posting a loss of 9,661 ha per annum between 1995 and 2010 that represents 14% decline. With the expansion of agriculture, more rural areas in all of Uganda are experiencing a huge loss of wetlands and their benefits.

On wetlands around Lake Victoria, the loss costs more than Shs 38 billion annually in water purification alone due to loss of in buffering and filtration capacity.

At this rate, the activists say, Uganda’s wetlands will be completely lost by the year 2100 and the country will be highly vulnerable to climate change induced disasters affecting the most poor and rolling back any gained development efforts.

 

The post Parliament Tasked to Fast-track Passing of New Laws on Wetland Conservation first appeared on ChimpReports.