The rampant depletion of forests reserves in Hoima has drawn the attention of Anti Corruption bodies to investigate how residents secure land in protected areas. For years, National Forestry Authority-NFA has been battling encroachers on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land.
The rampant depletion of forests reserves in Hoima has drawn the attention of Anti Corruption bodies to investigate how residents secure land in protected areas. For years, National Forestry Authority-NFA has been battling encroachers on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land. The encroachers are found in Nyairongo village in Kabwoya Sub County, Wambabya and Bujaawe in Buseruka Sub County.
As a result, the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda –ACCU has teamed up with the Midwestern Anti-corruption Coalition- MIRAC to investigate how residents secure land in protected areas. On Tuesday, the team visited Nyairongo in Kabwoya Sub County where about 4000 hectares of land believed to be part of the Bugoma central forest reserve land that has been cleared by a group of residents and veterans.
Martin Zinira, Program Officer Midwestern Anti-Corruption Coalition says in their bid to advocate for environmental protection and guard against forestry clearing, the coaltion wants to ascertain more facts especially on how residents secured the land. Zinira says there are allegations that some of the settlers were allocated land in the reserves by the local authorities. The MIRAC official says they seek to ascertain all such details and later engage policy makers.
The team is interviewing the settlers, local leaders and other stakeholders in the affected areas to ascertain facts. In all these cases residents claim they were allocated land in the reserves claiming its public land but National forestry Authority maintains the residents illegally settled in the reserves. Ephrance Nakiyingi, the project Assistant Environmental Governance implemented by the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda says in this trail they wish to also establish whether the forest boundaries are clearly demarcated and if the settlers are in within or outside the reserve.
Nakiyingi says many claim they are outside the reserves while NFA insists they are settled in the forest land. She says it is imperative for them to establish lapse which could be contributing to this forestry encroachment and engage policy makers.
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According to Yolam Kwikiriza, who owns an acre of land the contested land in Nyairongo, the village committee allocates them each acre of land at 100,000 shillings. None of the committee members was present during the visit. Francis Twesige Mukooto, Kabwoya LC3 Chairman backs the settlers’ claim to the land saying they occupy public land that National Forestry Authority has no Jurisdiction over.
Mukooto claims there are clear original boundaries separating the reserve and the public land on which the residents are settled. He claims that some people are using their offices to try to evict residents, although he doesn’t name any.
The settlers have cleared the better part of the forest reserves and planted banana, maize and rice gardens on the contested land. No officials from the National Forestry Authority moved with the team.
accu investigates surrounding issues