Uganda as a country has its own environmental policies that they are trying to put in place so that the environment can be conserved since it is very important for things to be in place if disaster is to be avoided.
Most Ugandans are completely reliant on natural resources to survive. Forests provide fuel-wood and cleared land frees arable soil for agriculture. Uganda loses about 6,000 hectares of forests every 30 days according. If no action is registered by 2050, Uganda’s per capita forest cover will be zero (NEMA, 2009). Already 28 districts have lost their entire forest ecosystem while another 19 districts have forest cover lower than 1%.
A global water partnership reports states that Uganda is currently experiencing a rapid depletion of water resources, which, in addition to ecological challenges, is leading to conflicts in some parts of the country.
It further states that the Ugandan government has taken action and formulated policies and policy regimes to regulate land use and impacts on the environment. Despite the existence of laws and regulations, this case study illustrates the discrepancy between policy formulation and the reality of implementation on the ground.
With a lot of issues in place, the Ugandan government has formulated a number of policies to regulate land use and impacts on the environment. These policy frameworks seek to integrate ‘‘environmental concerns in the socioeconomic development planning of the country”.
In the report, it is stated that the government has taken action by developing a number of policy regimes to regulate and influence land use and environmental impacts. For example, the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP, 2000), the Sector Wide Approach to Planning for Water and Sanitation Sector (2002), the National Wetlands Policies (1995), the Environmental Impact Assessment Resolutions (1998), the National Environment Management Policy (MLWE 1994), the National Environment Statute (MLWE 1995), the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (GoU 1995), and the current draft of the National Land and Land Use Policy, among others.
The National Environmental Management Statute was also enacted by establishing the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) as well as providing for a broad range of issues pertaining to the functions of NEMA and measures for environmental protection including water resource management.
Much as many policies have been put in place, Johnson Ochokan, an environment conservationist says people have still continued to degrade the environment with their numerous acts like cutting down the trees, dumping wastes in the environment and water bodies, invasion of wetlands with many others.
He says it the government officials have tried to implement the policies but people still find ways of bending the rules especially those who cut down the trees for charcoal burning.
He says sensitising the public to plant trees and also find better places to dump their trash would do the magic.
“This should be done countrywide because the knowledge is needed by all the citizens including those in rural areas,” says Ochokan.
He applauds NEMA for they are trying to put their mission “To promote and ensure sound environment management practices for sustainable development” in action and this they have done with the help of the government that fund their programmes.
He says most people have resorted to degrading the environment because they need land for farming so they end up cutting down the trees, some have decided to use the land for settlement and also cut down the trees to earn a living.
He says these could be avoided if the government had a wide base of informants since some people know that it is law breaking to carry out such acts but they find suitable ways to carryon without being caught.
Annet Kandola Ballewa, Programme Manager CARE International says the Ugandan public needs more sensitization when it comes to urbanisation of the city because the city can still look beautiful with trees in it so they should not think that trees are only meant to be grown in the rural areas.
She further says people should jointly take care of the forest reserves and make sure that more trees should be planted so that our environment goes green.
“Awareness of citizens’ rights to access forest resources through media and other platforms is possible if the citizens are knowledgeable about the legislation guiding forest resources,” says Kandole.
She urges people to join the rest in forest management and Uganda will be a better place to live in.
She says if nothing is done, with time the climate condition of the country will go to bad since already there have been climate changes that have delayed the rains hence affecting not only the farmers but also the food quantity and prices in the market.
Making trees available for the public should be done so that people do not have excuses of failing to plant trees in their communities.