More than 1000 Squatters Evicted from Nakivale Wetlands

4491 Views Isingiro District, Uganda

In short
The eviction follows a joint notice issued by the Ministries of Justice, refugees, water and Environment to the encroachers in 2012 to vacate the area in November or risk being thrown out.

More than 1000 squatters on the shores of Lake Nakivale in Isingiro district are out in the cold after their homes were demolished by the National Environment Management Authority. They are part of the 20,000 residents of Kahirimbi trading centre accused of encroaching on Wetlands around Lake Nakivale. The eviction follows a notice jointly issued by the Ministries of Justice, refugees, water and Environment to the encroachers in 2012 to vacate the area in November or risk being thrown out.
 
In the notice, the encroachers were ordered to move at least 200 meters away from the lake to pave way for the restoration of the wetland. However, the encroachers ignored the eviction notice forcing the three ministries to move in and thrown them out. Peter Katsinzi, the LC I chairman Kahirimbi trading centre says more than 1000 residents mostly women and children slept in the cold after failing to get where to go following the forceful eviction. Katsinzi says despite being given ample time, many residents failed to vacate the wetland because they have no where to go.
  
Jane Niwantegye, a mother six says she has nowhere to go to apart from the Lake shores were she was born and raised 40 years ago. Niwantegye has vowed to camp in the nearby papyrus swamps with her children until Government finds an alternative home for her. Martin Abilu, the Rwizi regional police Commander says no body will be left in the wetland. Abilu refutes claims by residents that they do not have where to go saying police records indicate that the majority hail from Rakai, Ntungamo, and Bushenyi and Mbarara districts.
 
Police say the encroachers came as charcoal burners, brick layers and fisher mongers before settling on the disputed land. Members of the affected families have also been farming on the 64 square miles wetland. Joseph Mwesigye, Isingiro District Environmental officer says the eviction of the squarters has been long over due. He says it will cost government huge sums of money to restore the wetland and lost green cover. Mwesigye says Government needs to raise over 200m shillings to restore the more than 70 square kilometers of lake water lost due to siltation caused by human activities.

//Cue in: “this degradation of…
Cue out: …..into the lake.”//

The water ministry plans to replant 3m trees along the degraded lake shores within a period of two months. The natural lake is a source of water for the adjacent community and also acts as catchment area for Lake Victoria and river Nile.