Community Green Radio listeners’ clubs members have been advised to get involved in initiatives that promote environmental conservation and sustainability.
During a visit to Kapeke Women Listeners’ Club in Kiboga district late March this year, Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director for National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) said the organization works with communities while encouraging them to get involved into sustainable environmental conservation, protecting land rights, conserving wetlands, tree planting and many other programs.
He said the listeners clubs should start up income generating projects that are environmental friendly like beekeeping and also ensure food security.
“The environment is not only the trees that surround us but it also involve the people who benefit from it, more so the bees we keep are important part of Environmental conservation “explained Muramuzi.
During the visit, the listeners’ club members from Kiboga and Kyankwanzi gathered in Kapeke where they visited an apiary and members trained on different local bee hives.
Ms.Sarah Kamyuka, Community Green Radio listener from Kapeke women enterprise said she has developed ideas of establishing different sustainable initiatives through the various radio programs.
“Through the green radio Nyinabwenge programme, as a woman, I have been able to plant local vegetables in sacks, polythene bags and other containers,” said Kamyuka.
Kamyuka expressed that they have also had sessions of knowledge sharing about the different livelihood activities with other women from diverse groups and have been able to emulate.
The listeners’ club members were happy with the idea of visiting projects saying it will keep them focused on initiatives that strengthen their groups by implementing the ideas got from the meeting to transform them.
Ssembatya Asuman, the chairperson for Nabidondolo listeners’ clubs in Kyankwanzi district, said listeners clubs are important and have empowered community members to adopt different skills that sustain their livelihoods.
Allan Kalangi the sustainability school program Manager applauded the Community Green Radio listener clubs for embracing the initiatives that empower them urging that the visit is purposely meant for inspecting the activities carried out by listeners clubs obtained from CGR sensitization programs and also equip the listeners with more ideas that can sustain them.
Kalangi therefore encouraged the community members to continue using the radio to inform the rest and set the goal of sustaining their incomes and to improve environmental conservation.
The use of chemicals in agricultural practices has become inevitable in fighting crop pests, disease and weeds.
However, there has been concerns on risks of continued application of poisonous chemicals on health and environment. Experts warn that excessive use and misuse of chemicals pollutes water resources, causes biodiversity loss and compromises the safety of food.
It is for this reason that National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is in a campaign to sensitize farmers about the dangers of careless application of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals as well as promoting organic pest control methods.
On March 25, NAPE held a sensitization meeting that attracted over 60 farmers from Hoima and Kikuube districts. They were sensitized on risks associated with the use agriculture chemicals and available sustainable organic solutions of managing pests and soil fertility.
Fatuma Nantambi, the Agricultural extension service provider from Hoima District Farmers Association (HODFA) said the use of organic methods of farming enhances good yields since natural components of the soil are maintained.
She said that farmers do not observe safety measures like wearing protective gears including gumboots, overalls, gloves, helmets and facial masks and reading precautionary measures about the usage.
“Agro-chemicals greatly affect farmers because they do not ascertain their effects on the soil and the plants. It is good to embark on use of organic methods like applying animal dung or chicken droppings as manure; mulching to control weeds and use of other locally made pesticides,”Fatuma explained.
In the meeting, farmers were also trained on the use of organic pest control methods and use of agricultural practices like mulching to control weeds.
Kabaale Women Farmers group demonstrated how farmers can come up with organic pesticides by mixing black jack, Neem/Lemon leaves, onion and garlic, tomato leaves and soap. The ingredients can be pounded to come up with well blended liquid that can be used for spraying.
The group chairperson, Annet Kasoro said organic agricultural inputs have far reaching advantages and saves money when using them than buying Agro-chemicals.
“The Kabaale women farmers group resorted to using organic pesticides and seed preservatives to reduce on health and environmental risks related to agrochemicals,” Kasoro explained.
Amos Byabasore, a maize farmer from Kigaaga village said that he has resorted to using organic agro inputs because he underwent a nasty experience when using agrochemicals to spray army worm from maize which in turn affected his health.
“Farmers are taken up by agro-chemicals yet they do not care to follow the healthy procedures required when using these chemicals. I almost died from inhaling a chemical while spraying. I vomited and became sick for some days, am careful and I now use organic materials,” confessed Byabasore.
Peruth Atukwatse, the NAPE Officer in charge of Chemicals Management and Climate Change, said the meeting aimed at sensitizing farmers on safe usage of agriculture chemicals, wastes management and promoting non-chemical pest control measure to protect consumers and farmers from excessive chemical residues in food and protect the environment.
“Apart from agro chemicals, there are other chemicals that we interact with on daily basis and these cause harm to our bodies depending on handling, usage and disposal. We want the communities to know the dangers associated and how to regulate their use, “says Atukwatse.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers under different commands have conflicted over illegal transportation for forestry resources from the disputed Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kikuube District.
Involved are two UPDF soldiers and three Field Force Unit (FFU) policemen attached to the National Forestry Authority (NFA) who were assaulted and disarmed by another group of UPDF soldiers allegedly attached to Hoima Sugar Limited.
The incident happened at Kololo trading centre in Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district after guards from NFA intercepted a lorry carrying timber suspected to have been harvested illegally from Bugoma central forest reserve en-route to Nyairongo village, Kabwoya sub-county in Kikuube district.
The NFA Kisindi Sector Manager Alex Obonyo disclosed that the lorry containing the timber was intercepted after getting tipped by concerned citizens of the truck loading the timber in at Nyamigisa area which is nine kilometers away from the disputed parts of Bugoma central forest reserve.
“We were informed by concerned residents that truck registration number UBH 975 Y had loaded timber being transported out of the forest reserve and we had to alert our guards to intercept the truck”, Obonyo explain told this website.
Obonyo mentioned the assaulted NFA police guards as Corporal Peter Bulamu, Cpl. Gerald Asiimwe and a one Nsungwa while the soldiers are only identified by single names as Private (Pte) Chance and Sergeant (Sgt) Karim.
Although NFA is a mandated custodian to oversee all the central forest reserves in Uganda, they work with the military and Police both independently and compliantly to provide pro-active protection of the forests and prevent consistent crime within the community policing areas.
According to the assaulted officers, they faced resistance from Hoima Sugar factory party after intercepting the truck fully loaded with the logs that was illegally harvested from Bugoma.
However, clashes over Bugoma central forest reserve have been on increase since 2017 when part of the forest was given away for sugarcane planting to feed Hoima sugar factory situated in Kigyayo village, Kiswaza parish, in Kiziranfumbi sub county Hoima district.
In October last year, journalists survived being shot by the military while they were investigating allegations of massive degradation of the forest in Nyairongo parts of the forest.
NFA Spokesperson Ms. Aisha Alibhai confirmed that the incident occurred and that all the five NFA guards who were on duty to guard and prevent crimes arising from illegal activities carried out the forest were assaulted, disarmed and detained for some hours.
“The violent soldiers assaulted, disarmed and detained all the five NFA guards and even in the process assaulted a boda-boda rider mistaken to be part of the NFA guards opened a case at Wairagaza Police Post and justice must prevail”, Alibhai explained.
To reduce the increased loss of forest cover in Uganda, FAO, EU through the government supports NAPE’s independent Forest Monitoring (IFM), FAO-EU-FLEGT Project aimed at fighting illegal logging within Ugandan forests in collaboration with National Forestry Authority (NFA), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and CSOs.
Every 21st March, the United Nations raises awareness on the importance of all types of forests. The 2021 International Day of Forests has been commemorated under the theme “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO country representative to Uganda Antonio Querido, the international day of forests is taking place amid covid-19 because there is need to create awareness about restoration of forests on the world.
“It’s with this aim that forests continue to strive because it helps mitigate climate change and other factors like floods and soil erosion”, said Mr. Querido.
Querido’s remarks were made at a national dialogue at Serena Hotel in Kampala, 18th March on sustainable forest restoration.
During the dialogue, Beatrice Anywar Uganda’s state for Water and revealed government’s plan to plant 200 million indigenous trees for a period of 5 years as a measure to restore forest cover. The minister said there is need for mindset shift and development of alternative sources of energy to safe forests from extinction.
“The mindset of the community should be changed from forest exploitation by closely looking at alternative energy use to achieve sustainability so that we prevent biodiversity loss”, Anywar said.
Among the key issues raised during the dialogue, forestry bodies were challenged about restoring forests amid the growing human needs caused by population growth and pressure from communities to improve their livelihoods.
Although forests play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by making them good for resilient communities and prosperous economies, they are also a home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
Caroline Adriaensen , the European Union (EU), head of development Cooperation said the international day of forests is important for sustainability because of rapid degradation that is causing global warming, forests must be celebrated by sustainably using forest products.
Dean School of Forestry, Environment and Geographical science-Makerere University, Prof. Fred Babweteera, the Keynote speaker said that Uganda’s forests are mainly destroyed by Agriculture activities and community settlement leading to deforestation hence climate change onset.
Currently, 25 percent of countries face more forest loss to Agriculture expansion than restoration for the next 2015-2030 but research recommends that the transformation of food production systems that lead to depletion can be tackled through reform policies.
The permanent secretary to the ministry of water and environment, Alfred Okot Okidi supposed that forests are part of our home, food and future but in Uganda, the forests are facing tremendous pressure where restoration process requires joint partnership.
The national dialogue on Forest restoration has been organized by FAO in partnership with European Union and Sweden Embassy to raise awareness about forest restoration as a solution to reviving the lost forest cover and reducing effects of climate change.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) through Forests and Biodiversity program is also currently running a project on Monitoring Ugandan Forests, “increasing the role of civil society in fighting illegal logging” with support from Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), European Union (EU), Government/ Ministry of water and Environment beneath the “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” (FLEGT) initiative aimed at reducing illegal logging within the Ugandan forests.
This year the theme “Forest restoration: A path to recovery and wellbeing emphasizes on the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.
National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE), partners and different stakeholders have launched a 2 year project aimed at regulating illegal logging.
The project, code named Food Agricultural Organization of the United the United Nations, Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FAO-EU-FLEGT) is aimed at monitoring Ugandan Forests by increasing the role of civil society in fighting illegal logging.
It will be implemented by NAPE in partnership with Field Legality Advocacy Group (FLAG), a Cameroonian organization that has expertise in Independent Forest Monitoring in Central and West Africa.
Frank Muramuzi, NAPE Executive Director and the FAO-EU-FLEGT project Lead expresses concerned about drastic climate change, caused by destruction of forest cover that needs to be protected through monitoring.
“Whether it is legal or illegal logging, our major concern is that the forests in Uganda are being degraded at a higher rate. I appeal to government to regulate and reduce on illegal logging”, said Mr. Muramuzi.
According to Bob Kazungu, Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE)-FLEGT focal point person, monitoring of forestry management has been taking place by Ugandan government institutions through routine M&E frameworks in place.
“Forest monitoring has been done to inform policy in many instances including checking on compliance to frameworks. We have been able to monitor remotely with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)”, Kazungu explained.
Kazungu illustrates that GIS allows forest monitoring parties to display and analyze graphic and tabular data by enhancing forest management that enable land owners and forest managers to evaluate and analyze the species diversity, age and size of timber, timber density or volume.
He says although the set approaches have not produced results in reducing on the loss of the plantation and deal with the identified issues of illegal logging, NAPE and other stakeholders are important in addressing the challenges faced in fighting illegal logging in Uganda.
David Kureeba, the Project Manager for Forests and Biodiversity at NAPE explained the purpose and engagements of the project and the activities that are in place to ensure forest protection across the country to independently monitor the forests.
“Different stakeholders are at the centre of reaching the information of reducing illegal logging to suit the forest monitoring strategy” Kureeba said.
FAO representative Dr. Charles Owachi, on behalf of the FAO Country Director -Dr. Antonio Querido, said illegal logging has been a threat to sustainable development but the role of civil society is important in the monitoring process.
European Union (EU) representative Jalia Kobusinge explained that whereas CSOs and Government sector have a different role to play, EU is extending initiatives that fight forestry challenges by raising awareness.
The project NAPE is implementing is funded by the European Union (EU), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Field Legality Advocacy Group (FLAG) from Cameroon and Ugandan Government bodies in charge of forests.
Uganda’s forest and woodland cover stands at 24 percent of the total land area, equivalent to 49,000 square kilometers. Of these 9,242.08 km² is tropical rainforest, 350.60 km² are forest plantations and 39,741.02 km² is woodland but 30% of these areas are protected as national parks, wildlife reserves or central forest reserves.
Persons affected by the Oil pipeline project in Kiyuni village, Mulagi Sub County in Kyankwanzi district are concerned over the exhaustion of the Environment and household livelihoods in the name of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project.
The Project is expected to run through 10 districts of Uganda from Kibaale parish, Buseruka Sub County in Hoima through Kyankwanzi and other districts, transverse Tanzania.
Whereas Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the EACOP – a process that evaluates the potential social and environmental impacts of a given project and their mitigation measures was conducted, the PAPs say they are encountering a stall environmental and livelihood practices.
The ESIA studies for the EACOP were conducted around the crude oil export pipeline route (from Uganda’s Kabaale parish, Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district to Chongoleani peninsula, north to Tanga port in Tanzania).
Betty Namugwanya one of the affected PAPs from Kiyuni village, Mulagi Sub County in Kyankwanzi district hopes that the idea of barring them from carrying out any farming activity on the land can be withdrawn because it has greatly impacted the Environment through tree cutting to earn a living.
“The indigenous trees that were used to mitigate effects of environment degradation have been cut down to boost household income of the community since we are not supposed to continue cultivating perennial crops” Namugwanya explains.
She says that although she only had a plot of land, it was helping by means of enhancing her income especially through her small scale farming activities of planting organic food stuff that she normally sells to the community members.
The Chairperson in charge of the PAPs and the affairs of the community in Kiyuni village, Kyankwanzi district, David Kakumirizi said that the area has been conserved with good indigenous trees species like Taminalia, mivule and others but were all depleted by both EACOP projects activities and the residents.
“The community resorted to cutting down the trees for charcoal, firewood and timber because all their means of livelihood were hampered by the project that is why they are destroying the environment while awaiting for compensation” says Kakumirizi.
In spite of the above, they are also committed to minimizing any unavoidable impact to ecosystems, biodiversity and local communities, restoring and rehabilitating impacted areas hence offsetting significant residual impacts
Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in Kyankwanzi district have expressed anxiety about delayed Compensation for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) by the Government.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline is a 1,443km crude oil export setup that will transport Uganda’s crude oil from Kabaale, Buseruka Sub County in Hoima to the Chongoleani peninsula near Tanga in Tanzania for export to the international market.
However, this major export system covers 296km in Uganda’s 10 districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera and 1,147km in Tanzania.
The affected areas in Kyankwanzi include Kiyuni village in Mulagi Sub County and Kilasa village in Kisala Sub County, Kyankwanzi district that were previously demarcated for the Oil pipeline expansion.
However, the Project Affected Persons are pessimistic about the specific compensation rates and the when they will receive the benefits because they have not been addressed since their properties were valued.
David Kakumirizi, the Kiyuni village Chairperson disclosed that the deferment and lack of knowledge by the PAPs about compensation rates cripples the standards of living due to limited access to the demarcated land.
“We would rather find out about when we are getting compensated and by what amount because our properties were valued but we were neither briefed about the rates nor the timeframe for the imbursement” says Kakumirizi.
Kakurumizi attributes the apprehension within the PAPs to possible communication gap between government and the community about compensation rates.
Frank Ssewankambo another affected person believes that his piece of land and farms that were valued would fetch him a lot of money, there is no information about the amount of money he will get after the ratings.
EACOP policy on Temporary or permanent land acquisition entails Securing agreements with each affected household, deliver compensation and livelihood restoration programs and help households move out of the area.
“The affected persons may seem impatient but they are right because government has not put a clear information about the benefits of the pipeline, more so, I don’t know what my valued property costs,” laments Ssewankambo.
Although the EACOP PAPs are doubtful about compensation, negotiations of the host Government Agreement for EACOP between Tanzania and Government of Uganda commenced in February 2018 and were concluded in September 2020 when the Agreement was signed after which the compensation of the PAPs will be implemented.
In December 2020, Ugandan Government stated that compensation of the project affected persons for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline will commence in January 2021 hence posing impatience amongst the affected communities since the schedule month of the said compensation has come to an end.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE has contributed to Kiboga district COVID 19 Task Force to help fight against the Coronavirus.
NAPE, with support from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, provided hand washing water tanks, Infrared thermometers, sanitizers and face masks.
The items were handed over to Hajji Umar Mawiya, Kiboga district Resident district Commissioner, who is also the Chairperson of district COVI 19 Task Force. Present at the handover was also the District Chairperson, Israel Yiga and the function was held at Community Green Radio Offices on May 21.
Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director explained that the organization thought it wise to support the district that hosts the Community Green Radio as a way of helping communities prevent the spread of the virus.
“We got support from our development partners and secured these items and today we are handing them over to the task force for use by the listeners of the radio”, explained Mr. Muramuzi.
During the handover, Mr. Muramuzi also emphasized the need for promotion of environmental conservation by stopping encroachment on wetlands especially in the current situation where the country is experiencing floods and rising water levels especially at Lake Victoria.
The RDC Kiboga District Mr. Mawiya commended NAPE and Community Green radio for supporting the struggle in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic by donating and giving back to the community.
“This donation is timely. In our district budget, we had budgeted for only 2 infrared thermometers because these days they are very expensive. I want to thank you for giving back to community and having communities at heart,” said Mr. Mawiya.
Mr. Mawiya also applauded the radio for playing a great role in alerting the public about Covid-19 and Environmental conservation.
“We also want to thank you for being pro-community. Once you touch the environment, you have touched people’s lives”, he added.
The Kiboga district chairperson Israel Yiga also appreciated NAPE for the donation and applauded the radio for changing the mindset of the community about Environmental conservation, advocating for the rights of the masses through daily programmes that sensitize the public.
“The number of people and homesteads that have planted trees has greatly increased compared to previous days meaning that the community has greatly adopted the messages about conservation” said Yiga.
Rural farmers and producers are struggling to bridge the production and market gaps in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to farmers in Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts that Community Green Radio interacted with, despite continued normality with their agricultural activities, the lock down has drastically limited the market for farm produce since buyers can’t go to distant markets and sellers can’t look for better markets.
They say, this, in addition to closure of markets, shops and hotels, has reduced revenues and impacted on daily wage workers and petty traders, making it difficult for farmers to buy inputs and sustain their livelihoods.
“Our livelihood is being affected by Covid-19 pandemic making it difficult to access sustainable income for our families. Before the country underwent the routine preventive measures of the curfew that starts from 7pm-6:30am, the lockdown and social distancing, some farmers used to carry out day to day vending and hawking of food stuff to earn a living,” explains Asuman Ssembatya, the Chairperson for Nabidondolo listeners’ club in Kyankwanzi district.
Charles Lubega another farmer from Wattuba Sub County says many farmers are finding it difficult to sell at a profitable price, especially perishable goods.
“By this time I would be selling fresh beans, tomatoes and even matooke sending them to Kampala vendors but most of the vendors that used to buy from me are crying of lack of money in addition to the COVID 19 measures,” explained Mr. Lubega.
However, Sara Kamyuka, a prominent matooke farmer in Kapeke Sub County in Kiboga district says farmers should think of new approaches to find markets and sell their produce like using Community Green Radio to look for customers and engaging in home deliveries.
New members of Community Green Radio listener clubs in Kyankwanzi and kiboga Districts have been enticed to engage in activities that promote environmental conservation and improved livelihoods.
During a meeting between Community Green Radio staff and Listeners from Lwamata, and Nabidondolo villages, the listeners said they are motivated to do more to conserve the environment and change their lives economically.
“Most of us were not aware of the values of conserving the environment and now the radio is opening our eyes to some of these things”, explained Joseph Kisuule a member of Lwamata listeners’ club.
Ms. Janat Kengonzi, the mobilize of Lwamata Listeners’ club says that apart from raising indigenous plant and tree seedlings, as a club they have also established a poultry project that has 15 active members.
“We are more than 15 members and every member has to bring a local breed of chicken to be considered active”, she explained to a Community Green radio reporter.
Asuman Ssembatya from Nabidondolo listeners’ club says the radio has mobilized communities towards working together. He believes working as group will quickly transform communities.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) through the various Community Green Radio programs encourages communities to engage in schemes that aid Environmental Conservation and activities that improve their household income and conserve the environment.