President Museveni has called for conservation of wetlands noting that their continued loss and degradation is a matter of concern not only in the context of livelihoods, but also in mitigating climate change impacts.

“I am indeed concerned about the rapid loss of wetlands, particularly in and around urban centres, and in areas like Busoga, Tororo, Kigezi and especially in places like Pallisa where rice growing is common,” Museveni said.

PM Rugunda feeds fish at Limoto Wetland Restoration Site fish pond after commissioning it during the National Wetlands Day 2019 celebrations in Pallisa district on Saturday(Photo by PMPU)

He added that wetlands are important because they perform a number of functions such as water storage, ground water recharge, storm protection, flood mitigation and shoreline stabilization among others.

The President made the remarks in his speech delivered by the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda at the commemoration of the World Wetlands Day 2019 on Saturday.

The National celebrations were organized under the theme “Wetlands and Climate Change” and took place at Limoto Primary School in Pallisa District.

President Museveni urged citizens to reflect on what they can individually or collectively do to conserve wetlands, adding that well managed wetlands make communities resilient to extreme weather events and disasters such prolonged drought and incidences of water scarcity.

He said there is need to remove pressure from wetlands by creating alternative livelihood options that are economically viable, and also laid down guidelines on the management and conservation of wetlands.

“We need to secure boundaries of our wetlands and also strictly gazette and protect those that provide critical functions that avert climate change impacts. We need to explore setting up environment courts that effectively deal with impunity, and at the same time establish a separate law for wetlands,” Museveni said.

He also said there is need to restore wetlands and associated catchments that have been degraded as well as ensure that due diligence is done before issuance of user permits, adding that periodic audits should be done to monitor compliance to the conditions set.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda launched the Building Resilient Communities, Wetland Ecosystem and Associated Catchments project in Pallisa District, on behalf of the President, as part of the activities to commemorate the Day in Uganda.

The LimotoWetland Restoration site project which was commissioned is made up of 5 fish ponds, a valley tank and a solar powered small irrigation system irrigating 7.8 hectares and is estimated to serve the community for 8 years.

 The aim of the 44.2-million-dollar project is to support alternative livelihoods and directly benefits 8000 people.

The Premier thanked the community for working with government to conserve wetlands and support the project. He also tasked key stakeholders especially the media to engage in sensitization campaigns about climate change and conservation of the environment.

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Goretti Kitutu highlighted the need to end degradation of the environment and called for consolidated efforts in conserving wetlands and the environment at large.

The Minister of State for Local Government, Jennifer Namuyangu also re-echoed the need to protect the environment adding that it that it benefits the entire community.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Rosa Malango thanked government for enacting a law that enables illegal land titles in wetlands to be cancelled.

She said the need to preserve wetlands also enables the community to protect and promote its heritage and values which boosts tourism. She pledged to work with government to promote a green economy.

Awards were also given to individuals who have tremendously worked to conserve wetlands in Pallisa District. Ends.

BY DOREEN NASASIRA

Monday, February 04, 2019