More than 60 percent of wetlands in Kabale district have been encroach on by cultivators according to National Environment Management Authority. The recent one to be encroached is the Rukiga wetland which is located on the Kabale-Mbarara road in Kashambya sub-county.
The recent one to be encroached is the Rukiga wetland which is located on the Kabale-Mbarara road in Kashambya sub-county.
Rukiga residents started cultivating in the wetland last year but now half of it is taken.
Charles Barugahare, one of the farmers in the wetland says the decision to encroach on it came after people failed to get land for cultivation. He says despite the people knowing the implications of destroying the wetland, they have no option.
Barugahare says land shortage is increasing in Kabale and people cannot sit and watch yet they can cultivate the in the wetlands and survive.
Jenifer Kyokunzire told URN that the wetland has been there but due to land pressure in Rukiga they were unable to preserve it.
She says last season her family was able to harvest 50 sacks of Irish potatoes and threatened not to leave the wetland.
But the environmentalists blame the massive encroachment on wetlands in Kabale to lack of political will.
Jeko Musingwire, the National Environment Management Authority Officer In charge south western Uganda, says politicians in the region focus on votes and not on the protection of the environment.
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He says this has forced people to reclaim all the wetlands in the region.
The NEMA officials says they introduced environmental committees at the sub-county level but in Kabale the system failed as members were also part of the gangs that encroached on the wetlands.
Musingwire says if the politicians had the will to support NEMA the issue of the wetland encroachment would have reduced.
But the former Kabale district speaker, Jack Katarishangwa refutes the claims saying it’s the environmental bodies that failed in their work of sensitizing the population.
Katarishangwa says people need to be enforced by a different body but not politicians who are again coming to seek votes from the same population.
He says NEMA should carry its mantle and ensure that wetlands are protected in the district.
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But Musingwire says that poor coordination between politicians and NEMA has resulted into losing of micro climate which used to moderate the land coming from the wetland.
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