The United Nations has asked Uganda to invest in community participation to end deforestation and encroachment on water bodies if it is to secure the country’s water and environment.
This was disclosed during the commemoration of the 4th annual water and environment week in Kampala.
Rosa Malango, the UN Resident coordinator in Uganda said that in Uganda, forest coverage has reduced meaning that the country could stop being the Pearl of Africa due to deforestation.
She said we must invest in community participation in disaster preparedness.
Malango noted that globally, one in five children do not have enough water to meet their daily needs and this is made worse by global warming.
She said the United Nations will focus on reducing environmental degradation and the adverse effects of climate change.
The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said that it is estimated that Uganda loses about 846 square meters of wetlands annually.
He said that this is mainly due to sand mining and industrialisation adding that well-managed wetlands make communities resilient to climate change.
“There is a need to gazette and protect our wetlands.The government is currently implementing measures to manage the issue of flooding around the country,”he said.
Rugunda noted that plastics have also become the most dominant waste in the country, both on land and in the water bodies.
“We recognise the threat caused by plastic litter and we have put in place measures to curb this.Water and environmental resources are however under increasing pressure despite their importance. The forest cover has declined from 24% in 1990 to 12.4% currently,”he said.
Elsie Attafuah, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said Uganda will need to invest, provide incentives and look at issues such as digitalisation to address some of the issues affecting the water and environmental resources.
“It is very important that we look at policy shifts. We have sectors that are still using biomass and yet we have electricity. Our development is nature-based. When we are thinking about development, we need to be mindful of where it is coming from,”she said.
She said if we don’t manage waste properly, for example, the government will spend millions to clear the waste and that is where the trade-off comes from.