Plastics and single-use polythene bags locally referred to as “Kaveera” are increasing danger to livestock and humans as they prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death, experts have warned.
According to scientists, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting them.
Many Ugandans living in the urban and peri-urban areas started dairy farming to tap into the demand for milk and its products, driven by the population growth.
Unfortunately, they operate on a small scale because land and cattle feeds in the urban and peri-urban areas are limited.
The peri-urban areas are contaminated with indigestible materials such as plastic bags which once consumed by the cattle impair health, cause loss of milk productivity and death.
Apollo Ofwono Yeri, one of the large scale goat farmers in eastern Uganda expressed concern that littered polythene bags often get ingested, exposing both animals and humans who feed on the beef and milk to a number of diseases.
Ofwono who is also the Tororo Municipality Member of Parliament said he recently resorted to growing and cutting feeds for his goats to limit their movements and to protect them from feeding on polythene bags.
“When a goat has eaten the kaveera, it starts losing weight and you would not know why it’s losing weight,” said Ofwono.
Dr. Umar Uthman, an environmental specialist, said the effects of ingested singles-use plastic bottles and polythene bags does not only affect livestock but humans who feed on the milk and meat of the animal.
“Most of them have small chemicals that may be detrimental and may predispose someone in a later stage to casino-genes which is a factor that may precipitate the development of a cancer in a patient,” HE SAID.
With littering of plastics bottles in homes, Uthman said that some children at times are involved in accidents like swallowing plastic bottle tops leading to other health complications.
Biyika Lawrence Songa, MP Ora County who sits in the Climate Change Committee of Parliament expressed his disappointment that the laws on kaveera use which were enacted by the previous parliament are yet to be implemented.
Songa said that they are now going to embark on creating awareness against the use of polythene bags, noting that much effort is needed in order to fight the vice in the country.
“Why would someone go to the market even if the person is carrying single use? Why do you buy tomatoes in the separate polythene bag, meat in the separate polythene bag and another thing in the separate polythene bag?” he queried.