The government has embarked on using a business-based approach to conserve the environment in northern and eastern Uganda.
Thanks to funding from the World Bank, this intervention should generate a colossal return on investment while promoting the protection and restoration of the environment.
Program components include soil and water conservation, ecosystem protection and restoration.
The implementation of the Integrated Water Management and Development Project (IWMDP) is fully integrated into the government structure.
Thus, the water resources management component of the project is implemented by the Directorate of Water Resources Management through its various departments and the Water Management Zones concerned.
Mr. Robert Bogere, a senior water officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, told the Daily Monitor at the project kick-off meeting in Lira City on Tuesday: “The project aims to restore ecosystems degraded, including wetlands, river banks and deforested landscapes. ”
Mr Bogere said each sub-catchment will have around 500 hectares of degraded wetlands and around 480 kilometers of river banks on both sides restored.
Degraded agricultural land will also be restored.
“So we’re introducing water conservation measures that aim to promote infiltration into the ground so that when it rains, a lot of the runoff goes into the ground rather than having it run off as surface runoff – flash floods – that are disruptive to communities,” the water official explained.
Mr. Charles Ichogor, Resident District Commissioner of Gulu, DRC, said that if the project is successfully implemented, Uganda will indeed qualify to be called the Pearl of Africa.
“This country is in danger. This nation’s biodiversity is bleeding and we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. So, we must all mobilize our civilization to reverse the trend,” he said.
Rev. Felix Ogwang Ocen, the Archdeacon of Otwal in Oyam District, said, “If we want to fight the problem we have caused, we need to change our mindset and work as a team.
Mr. Edward Martin Rwarinda, the Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Compliance and Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Water and Environment, noted that this project is in line with what the government is promoting under of the Parish Development Model (PDM).
Officially launched by the government in February, the PDM aims to lift 17.5 million Ugandans in 3.5 million households out of poverty through the transformation of subsistence households into a cash economy.
It is based on seven pillars: agricultural value chain development, economic infrastructure and services, financial inclusion, social services, community mobilization and change of mentality, parish management information system, governance and administration.
“So the approach we use is that although degradation has taken place, the culprits must be convinced by giving them alternative livelihoods in the form of income generating activities so that they are convinced to leave the basins. degraded watersheds or sub-watersheds,” Mr. Rwarinda said.
Ms. Caroline Angolère, from Kole RDC, said: “I am very impressed with the project. The project seems intent on tackling the central problem in the communities.
However, she warned that the PDM will not succeed if the environment is not preserved.
“I was also made to understand that the district’s natural resources department receives very little funding, [and] that is why it becomes very difficult for them to map and delineate these wetlands,” said Angolère, noting that there are factors that push farmers to cultivate in wetlands.
“We have issues of lack of awareness and land disputes in the communities. There are clan chiefs who have taken over the land of the community and therefore the community must cultivate; they become desperate and use the wetlands, to some extent,” she added.
Mr. Richard Cox Okello Orik, Lira District Chairman, said population growth has led to environmental degradation.
“I am so happy to note that even though we will tell people to get out of the wetlands, people will have alternative livelihoods and I think the project will help a lot in environmental conservation,” he said. he declares.
Wetland encroachment is rampant in the Lango sub-region, with large tracts of wetlands used for growing rice, maize and beans, among other things, especially during the dry season, according to Mr. Charles Dicken Langoya, a consultant.
In implementing the IWMDP, Langoya said the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the contractor, will follow President Museveni’s principle that “it is not business as usual. It will be a business-driven approach that supports conservation while making money.
The two-year intervention provides support to catchment management and activities in the sub-catchments of Lwakhakha (Mpologoma catchment), Lake Okolitorom and Apeduru Apapai (Awoja catchment), Kochi (Albert Nile Catchment) and Aswa II (Aswa Catchment).
It further aims to improve the livelihoods of affected communities, by supporting stakeholder engagement and the establishment of micro-catchment structures for sustainable management of interventions.