The destruction of River Katonga Bridge along the Kampala-Masaka highway by floods has prompted activists to launch another campaign against degradation of the Lwera wetland.
The campaign code-named “Save Lwera from rice growing and sand mining” has been launched by the Citizens’ Concern Africa (CICOA) a non-government organization that seeks to address environmental, social, and climate change issues in Uganda
The organisation’s Executive Director, Mr. Andrew Mafundo tells KFM that this latest campaign involves an online petition that opens to the public for signing at 4 pm on Friday, May 12th.
“We are revamping the “Save Lwera” campaign and we hope that this time we shall have more people participating. But specifically, what happened yesterday, is unfortunate and regrettable and goes on to confirm that you cannot cheat nature”, he said.
A similar petition was sent to the National Environment Management Authority, Ministry of Water and Environment and that of agriculture in 2019 and was signed by about 4,000 people.
Mr Mafundo decries the high cost of wetland degradation citing the travel chaos and increased costs for motorists. Traffic has now been diverted to the Mpigi Villa-Maria road which is longer by about 56km, according to the Bus Operators and Drivers’ Association.
He adds that wetlands and forests are important resources for regulating climatic conditions, erosion prevention, moderation of extreme flows, sediment traps, soil formation, and maintenance of water tables in surrounding lands, and acting as centers of biodiversity and wildlife habitat.
They are also sources of wood, timber and other construction materials, food, medicines, water supply, fisheries, dry-season grazing for livestock, nutrient and toxin, tourism, recreational and spiritual functions, and promote aesthetic beauty of the area. “Unfortunately, these resources are on the decline in many parts of Uganda. Data shows that the national area of wetlands declined by 30% between 1994 and 2008.
And although between 2008 and 2014, there was an increase in areas under wetlands, this was only by 0.03% from 26,307km2 in 2008 to 26,315 km2 in 2014”, Mr Mafundo said.
He says that despite efforts by various actors to stop sand mining and rice growing in Lwera, these activities have continued unabated and now Ugandans are paying for these irresponsible acts.