A total of Shs 2,046,000,000 is required for wetland recovery, according to consultants on the ongoing Environment Management Policy assessment team.
The revelation was made during a National Validation of Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the National Environment Management Policy in Kampala, on Tuesday.
“A total of Shs1.5 Million per hectare will be required for recovery of degraded wetlands in the entire country”, said Dr Patrick Byakagaba, one of the consultants.
He said the existing environment management law was enacted in 2004 and does not address current environment challenges.
“These include; wetland encroachment, climate change, oil and gas and air or water pollution among others”, he added.
He said wetlands declined from 15.6 per cent in 1999 to 10.9 per cent in 2008 and the forest cover has decreased by 63 per cent since 1990 to date, according to statistics from Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).
“Drivers to reduction of wetlands in Uganda are population explosion and socio economic pressure on wetlands,” he pointed out.
Regarding the negative economic impacts wetlands degradation has caused, Byakagaba said there is increased costs on chemicals used to treat water by National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) at Gaba.
“Once these wetland degradation challenges are addressed, there will be an increase in fish production, reduction in water and air pollution and reduction in respiratory diseases caused by polluted water among others,” Byakagaba said.
Peter Okubal, country director for Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) said he is optimistic the new policy will be adopted into law by cabinet before Christmas.
“This is because Cabinet secretariat has been part and parcel of the environment policy assessment team and they know what exactly we are talking about. We have been in discussion with cabinet secretariat to do capacity building and we hope the new policy will be approved before Christmas”, he said.
In his closing remarks, Steven Mugabi, the commissioner for Environment Affairs at the ministry of Water and Environment said there is need to toughen the penalties imposed on wetland encroachers.
He said whereas some countries treat it as a criminal offence to abuse the environment, Ugandan laws treat it as a civil case and perpetrators are fined very little money, in form of court fines.
“The fines should be extremely heavy to reduce on wetland encroachment and other forms of deliberate environment destruction,” he said.