Mutagamba Frustrated By National Forestry Authority Leadership

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In short
Water and Environment Minister, Maria Mutagamba says she is frustrated by people she appoints to head National Forestry Authority but end up being involved in corruption scandals.

Water and Environment Minister, Maria Mutagamba says she is frustrated by people she appoints to head National Forestry Authority but end up being involved in corruption scandals.

Mutagamba says many of the officials she has appointed to the Forestry Authority board go through scrutiny by state security agencies but turn out to be corrupt when they take up office.

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National Forestry Authority is facing a leadership crisis from the time its former Executive Director, Damian Akankwasa was suspended and dragged to the anti corruption court on corruption charges. Before being interdicted, Akankwasa had claimed that his wife had stolen 900 million shillings from their bedroom.

Some of NFA’s board members were also recently arrested over alleged abuse of office.

Mutagamba says huge amounts of money that the government left the authority to control have been the source of conflict at NFA.
 
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She suggests that government should have financed the forestry authority and then made it to remit part of the money it collects in form of fees, and actual sale of timber to the consolidated fund.

She says this would ensure better accountability fort the money and avoid a situation where NFA officials have direct access to the money which they have diverted to personal accounts.

A 2009 study on the forestry sector by Forest learning Group on behalf of Environment said the sector was being run down by lack of transparency and massive corruption by at National Forestry Authority, its board and sector managers

Steve Nsiita, one of the authors of the report says the current mess being witnessed at NFA would have been eliminated if government had taken into account their findings.

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The study indicated that the Forestry Sector Support Department that is mandated to supervise the sector was almost non functional because of inadequate funding.

Mutagamba agrees that Forest Sector Support Department is not on the ground due to minimal funding. 

The total economic value of Uganda’s forests has been estimated at 593 billion shillings, approximately 5.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
 
Forests and woodlands contribute an average of 332 billion shillings annually to the household incomes.
Over 90% of Ugandans use firewood as their main and sole source of energy, consuming nearly 27 million tons annually.