UGANDA: GENERAL MUSEVENI’S WEAK POLICIES FAILING AMBITIOUS CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

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Illegal traders in tree products load a truck with bags of charcoal in northern Uganda.

“Uganda loses 90,000 hectares of forest cover every year.  We have talked enough. It is now time to act because biodiversity loss will undermine achievements of middle income status and the country’s Vision 2040”

“The rate of deforestation in Uganda is high and the country will soon become water-stressed if citizens do not pay attention to environmental management. I appeal to all other organizations out there to take part in planting trees as a priority to manage the climate change challenges”

GULU-UGANDA: The twenty-fourth session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP 24), is currently underway in Katowice, Poland. The COP (24), which began on Sunday, December 2, 2018, will last until Friday, December 14, 2018.

The conference is a result of the Paris Agreement which was signed in 2015 where world leaders committed themselves in ensuring that the planet earth should not get heated by two degree Celsius per annum, otherwise the world will experience catastrophic effects of climate change. The world temperature has heated by 1.5 degree Celsius at the moment.

According to organizers of the Katowice conference, they may have an ambitious, comprehensive outcome at COP 24 leading to a fully operation of the Paris Agreement, which is within grasp, but seizing it will require an unstinting, collective effort.

Fighting effects of climate change, and avoiding  global warming, requires collective effort of every state, whether you are a contributor to global warming like industrial and developed nations like China and  the United States of America (USA) or you are from a third world country like Uganda.

No sane Head of State will say he/she doesn’t care because global warming has affected each and every country in one way or another, be it draughts, floods or extreme temperatures.

In Uganda, we have experienced the effects of indiscriminate deforestation and environmental degradation; which has affected the rainfall pattern; which in turn, has had negative impacts on farming activities. All these are happening because Uganda has weak policies to fight the vice and that most leaders are corrupt.

According to Uganda’s State minister in charge of Environment, Dr. Kitutu Kimono Mary Goretti, Uganda loses up to 90,000 hectares of forest cover every year; and because of that Uganda may miss out its Vision 2040 goals and attaining middle income status.

“Uganda loses 90,000 hectares of forest cover every year.  We have talked enough. It is now time to act because biodiversity loss will undermine achievements of middle income status and the country’s Vision 2040”, says the minister.

The forest cover loss is more four times bigger than the trees Uganda plant every twelve months. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost 26% percent of its forest cover (about 1,297,000 hectares).

National Forest Authority (NFA) has 506 central forest reserves it manages but large tracts of these reserves have been cleared, over the recent years and General Museveni has on a number of occasions expressed disappointment at the performance of NFA.

On Thursday, December 4, 2018, State-owned New Vision daily quoted minister Ms. Kitutu Kimono as having said that Uganda’s forest cover has been depleted to 8% percent from 24% in 1990s. She attributed this to human encroachment for activities like agriculture, tree cutting for timber and charcoal burning.

“The rate of deforestation in Uganda is high and the country will soon become water-stressed if citizens do not pay attention to environmental management. I appeal to all other organizations out there to take part in planting trees as a priority to manage the climate change challenges”, says Minister Kitutu Kimono.

The Minister made these remarks during a launch of campaigns by the Rotary Club district 9211 during which the club intends to plant two million trees per year for the next five years.

Meanwhile, in northern Uganda, the rate of deforestation for both charcoal and timber is so high that local leaders in those districts are trying their level best to fight it. They have been impounding truck loads and levying heavy fines to dealers in those products before auctioning the items, but have so far failed to stop it.

Amuru district for example have destroyed over six thousand bags of charcoal and their makeshift huts; and arrested 189 people who were caught dealing in the illicit trade.

A research conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Ministry of Water and Environment in East Acholi districts in 2018, found out that subsistence farmland accounts for 54% percent of the total area of the landscape while woodland, the main type of forest in the landscape only accounts for 7.1% percent.

The research reveals that in 1990 woodland was occupying 722,500 hectares but this was reduced to a mere 72,994 hectares in 2015, but has been increased to 118,242 hectares in2018.

At the height of displacement farmland was on 431,846 hectares in 2005 but it has now doubled to 893,586 hectares in 2018. To date, the entire landscape in East Acholi is an agricultural landscape with a few woodland, grassland and bush areas left.

One of the badly needed policies is a policy on energy for cooking. Government could for instance reduce cost of electricity to make it affordable for cooking to the common man in the village. A law should be put in place to ban the use of charcoal in institutions, industries or in big hotels; if the country is serious in saving our trees.

 

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