In a bid to prevent the extinction of indigenous trees, Rwanda Community Green Radio listeners group has been argued to plant more indigenous trees.
Allan Kalangi, the Sustainability School Programme’s Manager at National Association of Professional Environmentalists-NAPE says most community members are turning to growing exotic trees due to their commercial benefits, abandoning ingenious trees, something that could lead to the extinction of the latter if not checked.
“Much as we need to plant exotic trees for commercial purposes, we need to continue growing our indigenous trees for their medicinal, water shed and ecosystem purposes and ensure they do not vanish. Indigenous trees are as important as exotic trees. Grow them on a large scale to keep them in existence,” said Kalangi.
In the meeting held at Rwanda village, Gogonya Parish in Kibiga Sub county Kiboga district, Kalangi stressed that with high levels of deforestation resulting from cutting down trees for timber, agricultural activities and bush burning, indigenous trees are likely to extinct.
“We encourage local communities to continue growing indigenous tree species in their ranches and gardens,” said Kalangi adding that the Radio will continue sensitizing local communities on the dangers of deforestation; a vice that has led to bad effects of climate change.
This came after Nagayi Vensus a community group member gave testimony of how Soursop (Ekitafeli) the indigenous fruit helped her cure a fellow community member from breast cancer.
Ms. Nagayi said Soursop fruit is an immune booster with a number of phytonutrients that are highly effective at destroying cancer cells, chronic diseases and boasting immunity.
“It was one day when my friend was feeling pain in the breast and I gave her a try at Soursop that I had planted after I heard it on radio in one of the programs. After a while, she told me she was fine which forced me to plant more and now the community treats me as a doctor forgetting that I used Indigenous tree to heal the disease,” Nagayi said.
Nagayi called upon community members to plant trees that help in many aspects like medicine and food.
“The nutrients help to boast the body’s immunity to fight infections,” she said.
Sserwada a resident of Rwanda village Gogonya parish, Kibiga Sub County in Kiboga district started farming rabbits in July 2020 after schools were closed due to COVID – 19. He started rearing rabbits in order to earn a living and also raise money for his secondary education.
“I was idle at home with nothing to do. This is when decided to start rearing rabbits. While listening to Community Green Radio, I heard a gentleman from Masodde village in Kyankwanzi district talking about rabbits and I got interested,” Sserwada said.
Sserwada says, to get the right skills, he looked for the gentleman called Ssebulime Ronald a known Rabbit farmer in Kyankwanzi district at his farm.
“During training and a visit to his farm, I learnt about hybrid rabbits whereas I was only used to indigenous breeds,” says Sserwada, adding that the hybrids are bigger and have sweeter meat.
Sserwada started off with two rabbits which he got from friend. By September 2021, they had increases to 50 rabbits.
“I had bought one rabbit from my friend and my aunt chased me to take it back since she didn’t like them. But later after the Community Green Radio program I involved her thank God she had also heard the same program and the benefits from farming rabbit,” he said.
Ms.Nagayi Vensus a resident of the same village and aunt to Sserwada said he had denied him an opportunity of earning sum funds from rabbit farming.
“I really thank Community Green Radio for bringing the radio down to the community because if I didn’t listen to the program, I couldn’t let my boy to keep rabbits but after that program and training I decided to provide some piece of land to him,” Nagayi said.
Sserwada’s investment has grown to 2million shillings. He has stock of 50 rabbits.
“Farmers in our village have started benefiting from my rabbits. Rabbit waste is used as organic fertilizer, rabbit urine is good liquid manure for crops and is on high demand in some parts of the country,” said Sserwada.
Sserwada is appealing to youths not to focus on seeking employment but instead start small income-generating activities that do not require huge capital.
“Rabbits multiply as many as six times a year on average and each time can produce eight kittens per litter. This assures one income throughout the year. There is also a high demand for rabbit meat and rabbits are easy to rear and very economical in terms of feeding, as they feed on grass,” said Sserwada.
The main challenge he faces is diseases such as ear cankers, swellings, pneumonia and coccidiosis which can be managed if diagnosed early.
Some of the challenges he grapples with are diseases such as Coccidiosis, but he has managed to stem them through good rabbit husbandry practices.
Sserwada says for a farmer to keep rabbits successfully, he must maintain high hygiene standards.
“The cages must be well-ventilated and clean while water containers must be cleaned daily to protect the rabbits from diseases. We encourage farmers to keep a close eye on their rabbits, give them the correct diet, update vaccinations, regular health checks to keep diseases at bay.”
Marketing and sales
The young farmer also sells the rabbits to the local communities and the selling price is determined by the weight of the rabbit. The lowest price a kitten is between 10,000-20,000 Uganda shillings and the old one range between 50, 000 and 80, 000 Uganda Shillings.
The Nnabagereka (Queen) of Buganda Kingdom Sylvia Nagginda has appealed for an end to single use of plastics to reduce on the adverse effects of plastics on the environment and human life.
While launching the Panel Discussion on the plastic pollution at Munyonyo Speke Hotel in Kampala at the climax of the flip-flop expedition, the queen appreciated the Flip-flop team for the great work done to preach plastic awareness in the region.
“To see our region clean and plastic-free one day, we need to start by increasing the knowledge and understanding of plastic pollution amongst communities,” explain the Nnabagereka.
Nnabagereka called on activists and community groups to join the struggle of ending single use of plastics. She explained that the major environmental problem of plastics in the lakes and Rivers can only be tackled through innovative technologies.
Flip-flop is the world’s first recycled plastic sailing dhow that has sailed on Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater ecosystem, taking its vital message up-stream and calling for an end to unnecessary single-use plastic.
Ben Morrison, the Chief Executive Officer of the Flip-flop project explained that the dhow was built to show the world that it is possible to make valuable materials out of waste plastic, and that single-use plastic does not make sense.
He said the voyage was meant to send an urgent message to the East African community on the need to end the unnecessary single use plastic that is a threat in the region especially Lake Victoria .
“Sailing around the lake, we aim to inspire people to create their own waste-plastic innovations and adopt circular solutions that will build greener businesses, whilst also taking plastic out of the environment. Together with communities across the Lake Victoria region, we hope to bring awareness and innovative solutions to beat pollution,” Morrison said
Dipesh Pabari the project leader on the Flip-flop expedition explained that the aim is to make awareness to community leaders, conservationists, business leaders and policymakers, demonstrating alternate uses of waste plastic and other circular waste models, while calling for an end to single-use plastics.
The boat gets its name from the 30,000 recycled flip-flops used to decorate its multi-coloured hull.
Namujju Juliet, a resident of Mpigi and a founder of Kimuli Fashion ability said such successful plastic recycled products inspire local communities to ensure proper management of plastic wastes.
“In my village, hundreds of plastic bottles are littered daily, I decided to transform the plastic waste in Mpigi greatly to reduced plastic pollution,” she narrated to our reporter.
Kyoburungi Gwendolyn the coordinator water resources institute at the ministry of water and environment explained that government had passed laws to fight against plastic pollution in the country.
“We are committed to fight against plastic pollution and will continue to work closely with the communities to find solutions to our ever evolving environmental challenges,” Kyoburungi said.
Louise Ellis the British Deputy High Commissioner to Uganda said fighting single use of plastics is what they have worked on for a while and pledged to continue to save the environment.
“Fighting single use of plastics will help us to clean up our towns, cities and beaches and will also improve how we recover resources, and reduce waste to landfill,” Louise said.
Louise encouraged all the community to join hands and fight the pollution adding that collecting the plastics can work as employment to the unemployed.
When Kayongo Godfrey took to the streets and dumping places in Kiboga district to collect used plastic bottles, many thought he was mad. They didn’t realize that Kayongo would use old plastic bottles to build a foundation for a better life.
53-year-old Kayongo was born and raised in poor conditions in the rural slams of Kiboga. He had little access to education. With other youths from the slums, he earns some money by collecting used plastic for recycling firms.
“This way, I developed an interest in recycling. I didn’t invest in capital for a recycling business,” Kayongo recalls.
“It was hard, I could not afford to hire people to pick up items for me, but together with my siblings, we collected bottles and washed them.”
Kayongo has been selling bottles to a growing number of recycling companies and mini-factories which actually have a high demand.
Recycled containers are used for packing local-made products like oil, herbal medicine or peanuts. Moreover, manufacturing industries make buckets, jerry cans and bags from recycled plastic.
“Before I visited the companies where the plastics where taken I didn’t know that I was losing a lot to middlemen,” Kayongo recollects.
Kayongo got more orders from different companies specifying the bottles in their different categories.
In the meantime, he has built himself a three roomed house near his working place in Kyekumbya. In Kiboga District
“I’m finally out of slum life,” Kayongo happily says.
“Since I had no job, in 2008 I decided to join waste collectors just to protect the environment and i had to support myself and my family. At the beginning I didn’t think that at one time I could earn something from the waste.” Kayongo said.
Kayongo is proud of his job.
“None of the district leaders has ever sensitized me on what to do as they usually say. it was my idea and a friend’s advice. I pick plastic bottles from various places like Masindi, Hoima and other districts near Kiboga”, Kayongo adds.
The recycle business improved his life and that of his family. His business contributes to environmental protection moreover.
Nakandi Zainabu the Kiboga District Senior Environmental Officer says the district set dates for sensitizing the community on the impact of poor disposal of waste, especially plastics. She says more aquatic animals are now endangered due to the irrational activities of dumping plastic bottles into the river and streams.
On the motivation for the initiative, Nakanzi said the district wants to reduce the volume of plastic that is polluting our environment and causing diseases and other disasters.
Environmentalists normally do not like plastic and polythene products because they do not decompose.
It’s common to see used plastic waste littered on streets, gardens and runways, and even blocking the drainage system. People try to get rid of the waste by burning it, which results in air pollution and health hazards.
Only a small amount of plastic trash is collected and recycled.
The world’s first recycled plastic sailing dhow (a lateen-rigged ship with one or two masts) is hitting the Victoria waters again.
The dhow, which is going around East Africa (in the three countries sharing Lake Victoria), reached Uganda on Thursday 11th March 2021via Lolwe Island in Namayingo District.
The dhow named Flipflopi has been on sail since March 4, starting from Kisumu, Kenya, through Uganda and lastly to Tanzania, ending on April 1.
The expedition hopes to promote regional collaboration to address plastic pollution by bringing its message to the 10 different lake-communities in the three countries, while raising awareness and inspiring communities to adopt circular-waste solutions to beat plastic pollution.
To achieve this, the Flipflopi has been incorporated into the national water week events and the expedition has used this as the main angle in the hope of promoting circular solutions and call for an end to unnecessary single-use plastic in the region.
The official launch of the Uganda Water and Environment Week will be on March 20, at Speke Resort Munyonyo after the dhow has left Ggaba beach on the same day.
The Flipflopi, covered in 30,000 flip flops, first set sail on January 24, 2019, from Lamu Island in Kenya before crossing into northern Tanzania, with its final stop in Stone Town, Zanzibar. This trip was aimed at creating awareness on the more than 12 million tonnes of plastic dumped in the ocean every year.
Environmental activists who were arrested by Uganda police in September this year in Hoima city Western Uganda over the “Save Bugoma Forest campaign” have vowed to die fighting to save the forest.
David Kureeba, the Officer in Forestry and Biodiversity, at National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE says if government does not safeguard the forest and stop deforestations, they will run to courts of law.
Mr. Kureeba, who appeared on Community Green Radio on September 18 said NAPE and other environmentalists are to sue Hoima Sugar Limited, NEEMA and the government over the destruction of the forest.
“It is unfortunate that the police are arresting activists who are advocating to save Bugoma Forest instead of arresting those behind the cutting down of the natural resource. We shall take this battle to courts of law. We can’t allow the forest to just go”, Kureeba said.
NAPE and other conservation activists are still battling in court after they dragged National Environment Management Authority –NEMA for giving out a certificate to Hoima Sugar limited for sugarcane growing.
Two Environmental Journalists who were arrested by Uganda police for allegedly organising a demonstration have also vowed to fight on. The two are Joshua Mutale and Venex Watebawa from the Water and Environment Media Network Uganda (WEMNET).
Mr. Watebawa says they were arrested and detained when they had gone to seek for protection from police to have a peaceful protest against the leasing of the forest reserve by Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to Hoima Sugar Limited for sugarcane growing. He, however said their arrest and detention will not stop them from the campaign.
“We went to seek for permission from the Officer in-charge at Hoima Police station to be able to peacefully protest the giveaway of the forest that is reportedly being cleared by the sugar company but we were instead arrested and detained. Now that we are out, we are going to continue to fight to save the forest,” Watebawa narrated.
Following the rise in water levels that have left many displaced in Uganda, Mr. Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE is appealing to people residing and working close to environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas to vacate voluntarily.
While speaking to Community Green radio early this month, Mr. Muramuzi said continued human activity along ecologically sensitive areas does not only pose danger to the environment but to human life as well.
“I appeal to the community to promote, protect the environment and leave the wetlands willingly before the presidential directive in regard to these areas is forcefully implemented,’’ cautioned Mr. Muramuzi.
Mr. Muramuzi also took a swipe at big business people, locally referred as investors for continuously reclaiming swamps and wetlands for development. He explained that these business people get approval from government agencies like the National Environmental Management Authority, NEMA to operate in wetlands and swamps.
“NEMA has issued licences to investors who are carrying out developments in wetlands and swamps. We call on government to desist from sanctioning such developments in environmentally sensitive area,’’ he said.
Mr. Muramuzi also noted that the construction of dams on major water bodies have become a threat to the flow of water; a reason NAPE strongly opposes the construction of dams.
Mr. Muramuzi believes the rising water levels currently experienced are as a result of degradation and encroachment of wetlands and forests for cultivation.
This year, Ugandan minister of state for Energy and Mineral Development Mary Gorreti Kitutu warned that the residents around Lake Kyoga would be affected since Karuma dam was releasing 950 cubic meters per second and the entire water was going to the lake.
Water levels for major water bodies across Uganda have gone up in recent months from 12.00 meters in 2019 to above 13.4 meters, in the case of Lake Victoria, a mark last recorded in 1964, while Lake Kyoga is projected to exceed the highest historical water level of 13.2 meters.
This has led to submerging shorelines, swamps and flood plains, displacing thousands of people and flooding infrastructure.
More than 9, 000 people have been displaced by the rising water levels of Lake Kyoga in Nakasongola district,central Uganda. Others have been displaced in Masaka, Buvuma, Mayuge, Jinja and Wakiso districts by the surge of water volume in Lake Victoria. People in Ntoroko District in Western Uganda have also been displaced by increased water volumes in Lake Albert.
The NAPE Community Green radio has received the 2020 Liz Hughes award for her Farm Radio at a function held at the radio premises in Kiboga. Green radio won the award after beating other 59 radio stations worldwide. The award was handed over by Mr. Ecaat Stephen the Country Representative Farm Radio International to the NAPE Executive Director Frank Muramuzi and the radio staff on March 8th.
While receiving the award, Mr. Muramuzi thanked Farm Radio International for recognizing the efforts of the radio in promoting women. He promised more empowerment to women.
“We are so delighted that finally our efforts in amplifying the voices of women have been rewarded. We shall continue to give wider space to women to air their views”, Mr. Muramuzi said.
In his remarks, Mr. Ecaat said the radio won the award because they devote enough time to women issues.
“What made you stand out was the huge amount of time you give to women to discuss their issues. You have also allowed women to speak for themselves on radio”, he said.
Israel Yiga, the Kiboga District chairperson praised the radio for giving ample time to programs that address women issues.
“I have been listening to this radio and following the time they accord to women issues, this award is not a surprise to me. I implore them to continue promoting women issues”, the chairperson explained.
The award giving ceremony coincided with the International women’s day. The function was attended by local leaders and the radio listeners predominantly women.
Community Green Radio is one of the major programs of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE).The radio is an offshoot of the sustainability of the Sustainability School Program which works on empowering communities to identify their rights and entitlements and works towards attaining and defending them.
The radio is aimed at amplifying the voices of local communities in the eco-sensitive Bunyoro and Buganda Regions to effectively participate in natural resource management processes.
The Liz Hughes award was created by Farm Radio International to recognize radio programs that address the issue of gender equality and create opportunities to share the voices of rural women. Liz Hughes was a board member of Farm Radio International who was passionate about broadcasting and a champion of gender equality. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcaster helped Farm Radio International to develop its FAIR journalistic standards, which emphasize Fairness and balance, Accuracy, Integrity, and Respect.