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UGANDA: Government receives cash to rehabilitate wetlands

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By: Lenny Mukooli

Pallisa- The Uganda government through the ministry of water and Environment with has secured $ 44.6 million about UGX Shs 1.6 trillion from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to restore several wetlands in the country, The Elgon Times has established.

The programme Analysist Energy and Environment at the UNDP Mr Daniel Omodo who represented the UNDP country director Ms Rosa Malango at the project launch in Pallisa district at the weekend said his organization with technical support from the Global Climate Fund GCF is to implement the project under the theme “Building resilient communities, ecosystems and associated catchment project” in Ten district in Eastern Uganda.

“The fund is to help empower the affected communities in the districts of Budaka, Pallisa, Kibuku, Bukedea, Ngora, Tororo, Butaleja, Namutumba, Kaliro and Mbale to open up wetland boundaries, construct small scale irrigation scheme, construct four fish breeding ponds, restore ecosystem and setup other activities to eliminate rice growing on the wetlands an economic activity communities have been surviving on to earn a living”, Mr Omodo said.

Mr Paul Mafabi, the director of Environment affairs in the ministry of water and environment explained that about 150, 000 hectares of wetland area is targeted for restoration, 50,000 hectares of catchment areas adjacent to wetlands is targeted for rehabilitation and that about 75,000 households are expected to adapt to wider variety of livelihood strategies while 75, 000 other households will have access to climate and weather related warnings.

“As a result, the project will address the increasing wetland degradation which has resulted into negative consequences including floods, rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity, prolonged droughts and deteriorating water quality that has greatly affected the targeted districts in eastern Uganda”, Mr Mafabi said.

Mr Sam Cheptoris, the Water and Environment Minister explained that government sourced for this money and directed that the construction of irrigation schemes and four fish ponds so that rice farmers can use this water to grow other high value crops and fish farming to improve on their economic livelihood.

He revealed that president Museveni has directed his ministry and concerned stakeholders to use all available means to ensure that Limoto Wetland which is a water catchment source for the Bukedi sub region is saved from degradation but that their efforts to ensure encroachers left the wetland have hit a snag.

“The President is so bitter with rice growers in Limoto Wetland which has been completely encroached on. But I now believe that we may not apply forceful means to evict people now that a new project to support livelihoods of the encroachers is here, we hope they adopt to new arrangements and peacefully leave the wetland,” Mr Cheptoris said.

The minister held the meeting with rice and district leaders and delivered massage from where he had directed his ministry with immediate effect to construct an irrigation scheme and four fish ponds at the age of Limoto wetland in bid to save the wetland from being degraded more by rice growers.

Mr Cheptoris appealed to all people who have established farms on the wetlands in the affected districts to vacate the said areas to pave way for the proper project implementation saying the resources for them vacating these wetlands are available.

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