National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has joined the rest of the World to mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (24th-30th October) with a call on the Ugandan Government to impose a total ban on the use of lead paint.
This week of action is an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (the Lead Paint Alliance), which is jointly led by the UN Environment Programme and WHO.
With this year’s theme, “Working together for a world without lead,” NAPE has partnered with local leaders to create awareness using Uganda Community Green Radio about the harmful effects of Lead poison and its exposure pathways including paints, batteries, lead contaminated toys and lead contaminated dust.
Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Manager for Chemicals management and climate change at NAPE says though World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified Lead in particular lead paint as one the chemicals of major public health concern, the government of Uganda has given little attention to its regulation and raising awareness about its effects to the public.
She explains that there is need to draft a regulation to ban the manufacturing and production of lead paint that exceeds lead concentration of 90 parts per million (ppm), increase on awareness campaigns and assess the quantity of lead put in paints by manufacturers.
Medih Kyakonye, the Kasanda District Environmental Officer and a student of PHD in Environmental Chemistry explains that Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects brain, liver, kidney and bones. He says lead can affect a child’s brain development and nervous system and also causes anaemia, hypertension and toxicity of the reproductive organs.
He, however, notes that people are innocently exposed to lead poisoning because they are not sensitized enough to know the effects.
“The paint manufacturers add Lead in their paint to make it easy for the paint to dry quickly. These days almost every house is painted and that means every person in a painted house is exposed to Lead. Lead paint is worse in a newly painted house that is not dry as well as an old house with paint dust. But people are not aware of these dangers,” Kyakonye explains.
According to Kyakonye, the government has not done enough to protect the citizens. He said there should be clear laws to regulate toxic chemicals from flowing into the market for the safety of Ugandans. He says the local governments are not facilitated enough to raise awareness on lead poison yet the public needs to be protected.
“Like for us in Kassanda, our sensitization is focused much on mercury use since it its largely used in the gold mines but there is need to increase the district budget so that the public especially town dwellers who live in painted houses are sensitized on dangers of other harmful chemicals like Lead,” adds Kyakonye.
The Kiboga district Senior Environment Officer, Zaina Nakandi said the district is underfunded to carry out awareness campaigns on lead poison for public health. She also notes that lead poison is an issue that has not been given much attention because of the long term that effects take to manifest. She noted that people especially children who are most vulnerable since their bodies are still developing, need to be protected and this can only be done when parents are sensitized about the effects of Lead and its pathways.
“We need to sensitize the public because lead poisoning is a major public health concern but as the district, our hands are tied. That’s why we appreciate the efforts of NAPE for giving us the platform to sensitize people,” said Nakandi.
In 2017, NAPE with support from IPEN carried out a study on lead in solvent based paints for home use in Uganda aimed at assessing the levels of lead in paint produced in Uganda. It was found out that 20 out of 30 analysed solvent-based paints for home use (67% of paints) were lead paints. This means they contain lead concentrations above 90 parts per million.
Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director, called upon the government of Uganda to join efforts with the rest of the world to eliminate lead paint by enforcing lead paint regulations and increasing public awareness campaigns about the health effects of lead exposure.
RELEASED BY NAPE’S CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME
Ugandan Minister of state for Information Communication Technology (ICT) and National Guidance Mrs. Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo has commended Community Green radio for its efforts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic that attached the country early last year.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank this radio for helping government by passing on the message of hard work, encouraging masses to conserve the environment and most importantly mobilizing citizens to fight COVID-19”, the minister said.
The minister’s comments were aired last Friday when she visited the Radio in Kiboga District. The visit by the minister was part of her routine checks to assess how government departments are using the free airtime that media houses were instructed to offer.
During the visit of the radio, the minister was accompanied by the District Chief Administrative Offer, CAO Mr. Edward Musingye, the District vice chairperson Mr. Moses Ssenjogera and the Resident District Commissioner, Badru Ssebyala.
While at the radio, the minister held a radio talk to mobilize the masses to embrace government programs, especially the ongoing vaccination against COVID-19 in the country.
“I want to appeal to all the people listening to me now that let’s all embrace the ongoing vaccination. It is for the good of all us as a country,” said the minister while in the studio of 103.9 FM.
The minister called on the community members to embrace all available economic empowerment programmes introduced by the government.
“Let’s all welcome and engage in the available poverty eradication programs like the Parish Development Model and other programs that target youth and women,” explained Mrs. Ssebugwawo.
Uganda Communication regulator, Uganda Communications Commission, UCC in April 2014 directed media houses countrywide to offer free airtime for government to mobilize citizens for development.
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 National Association of Professional Environmentalist (NAPE) has established and trained three Local Peace Committees (LPCS) to promote peaceful co-existence in Kijayo and Rwamutonga camps for Internally Displaced People and Kyangwali refugee camp.
The LPCs were established during a meeting that was held at Riviera Hotel in Hoima City on August 27, aimed at increasing their understanding on their roles and responsibilities and also strengthening the collaboration between the district leaders, local leaders, police and community members.
Addressing the participants, Joan Akiiza, the Project lead and NAPE Senior Legal Officer said the committees are expected to hold regular meetings to dialogue and mediate issues brought up by the communities and be able to follow up reported cases at different levels for redress and document the outcomes.
She said they should be able to receive updates on early warning conflict incidents and try to mitigate them early enough to avoid escalation of violence.
“As LPCs, you should help in peace building through dialogue and mediation, identify early warning signs of gender based violence and mitigate them and document the types of conflicts registered in your communities,” Akiiza noted.
Oyuk Sam, the Albertine Regional Police Human Rights and Legal Officer said the LPCs should work with police in their communities to promote justice.
“You need to collaborate with police by sharing of information and intelligence in time and refer cases of criminal in nature to police,” Oyuk said.
Annet Kabahaguzi, the Senior District Community Development Officer for Kikuube district said the committee will help to bridge the gap between district local government and the citizens.
“I am happy that NAPE is coming up with this initiative. In addition to existing structures available, the citizens will use these committees to provide instant response to citizens and reach out to relevant offices where a common person cannot reach,” Kabahaguzi said.
As COVID-19 pandemic ravages Ugandans, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has intensified the move to train Albertine reporters on health reporting and promoting public access to fact-based information during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The training was aimed at equipping journalists with essential skills to effectively serve as frontline workers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
During the training, that was held at the radio premises in June, Julius Kyamanywa, Community Green radio station manager stated that the training is timely for the media sector to expose disinformation and misinformation related to the pandemic in Uganda.
“This training is timely and gives an opportunity to journalists to learn and avoid misinformation. It helps us learn to identify right sources of credible information”, he explained.
Professor Adolf Mbaine, a lecturer from Communications Department at Makerere University said journalists need to report on health based on facts and figures to avoid misleading the public.
“When you are equipped with facts and figures, you are good to go since you will be reporting from an authoritative point of view”, the Professor explained.
The training targeted journalists under the Albertine Journalists’ Platform (AJOP). AJOP was formed in March this year to build the capacity of rural journalists on reporting issues that affect communities.
AJOP, which is hosted by Community Green Radio, has over thirty radio journalists from radio in Hoima, Kibaale, Kagadi, Kakumiro, Buliisa and Kiboga.
Allan Kalangi, the Manager of the NAPE Sustainability Programme under NAPE says such trainings act as refresher courses for practicing journalists and enhances their capacity to serve communities better.
Beatrice Makune, a 52 year old small holder farmer from Kasomoro village in Hoima district has been relying on farming for all her life. Growing up from a peasantry family and missing out on education, Makune got married at 17 years.
To make matters worse, she was widowed at 38 years and left with less than an acre of land to raise her 10 children. As a subsistence farmer, Makune has been utilizing her small piece of land; growing different crops including millet to get income and food for the family.
However, she did not know that adding value to her drought resistant cereal crop would bring her abnormal profits until she attended a millet value addition training that was organized by National Association of professional environmentalists (NAPE) in March this year.
Makune is among the 60 women that were trained on access to better markets through millet value addition for improved livelihoods. The women were trained on how to plant millet, millet preparation, branding and marketing. Fast forward after the training, the women formed Kamu Kamu Women’s Group and are now supplying packed millet flour in their community.
“I was making losses! I would sometimes sell millet from the garden or immediately after harvesting. I would sell a kilogram of millet at 1,500 Uganda shillings. Right after the trained us, we could wait to make losses anymore! We contributed millet as members and started packing clean millet. Now our profits have doubled. We sell at 5000 shillings a kilogram of packed millet flour. We thank NAPE for opening our eyes,” said Makune, now the group chairperson of Kamu Kamu women’s group.
Under Participation and Opportunities for Women Economic Rights (POWER) project, NAPE has supported the group with a millet grinding mill to ease their work burden and also generate income as group.
The machine was handed over to the women by NAPE.
Ms.Makune, the group chairperson said the group was happy to receive the grinding machine. She said they have been having a challenge of taking their millet far for grinding which was time consuming. She said it will go a long way in improving women’s economic empowerment.
Kabahangi Monica, the area district woman councilor said the group was the first of its kind in the sub county to receive a grinding machine. She said some of the challenges affecting women in their community include violation of women’s rights due to limited income and violation of property rights.
Ms.Kabahangi appealed to women to use the project to improve women’s income and ensure that women start buying land on their own.
Women in Kasomoro are among the women that have been supported under POWER project implemented by NAPE and National Association of Women’s Action in Development (NAWAD) to actively promote and protect women’s land and economic rights in Hoima, Buliisa, Nwoya and Amuru districts.
Sostine Namanya, the Project Lead and Gender and Food Security Officer at NAPE said women bear the burden of feeding and supporting families yet compulsory land acquisition in these districts has left them without access to traditional livelihood resources.
She said women have been trained in different local alternative livelihoods like kitchen gardening, beekeeping and crafts making to improve their economic muscle while others have been supported to pursue their land related cases.
While handing over the milling machine, Namanya urged women to ensure that the operationalization of the machine is women-led.
Kiboga District Woman Member of Parliament, Christine Kaaya Nakimwero on Saturday 5th. June handed over 200 tree seedlings to Community Green Radio as part of commemorations to mark the World Environment Day 2021. The handover of the trees took place at the offices of the radio in Kiboga.
While handing over the seedlings, the MP said she’s giving out tree seedlings as part of her commitment to environmental restoration and conservation.
“I chose to offer seedlings to organizations and community members as my personal contribution towards environmental conservation,” the MP explained.
The MP also said the choice of giving the seedling to the radio was based on the fact the radio is at the center of the community in the district and that the radio put environmental issues at the forefront in their programming.
“This radio has put environmental conservation as a priority in it programming. They are passionate about environmental issues and thus ideal partners in environmental conservation”, added Mrs.Nakimwero.
While receiving the seedlings on behalf of the radio, Julius Kyamanywa, the Station Manager appreciated the MP for the offer. He explained that as a radio, they will continue putting environmental issues on top of their agenda.
“We thank you honorable for considering us. As a radio and our mother organization the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE shall continue offering a platform for discussion on environmental issues”, Kyamanywa explained.
World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5 June and is the United Nations‘ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. First held in 1974, it has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issue such as marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. World Environment Day is a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. Each year, the program has provided a theme and forum for businesses, non-government organizations, communities, governments and celebrities to advocate environmental causes.
The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is Ecosystem Restoration. Pakistan will act as global host of the day. World Environment Day 2021 will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Ecosystem restoration can take many forms: Growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts. This is the generation that can make peace with nature.
Peruth Atukwatse, the program officer in charge of chemical management under National Association of Professional Environments (NAPE) has expressed deep concerned over poor emphasis on enforcing appropriate policies, laws and regulations in Uganda to help on guiding sound management of chemicals and chemicals wastes.
Speaking at a training workshop at Front page hotel in Kampala May 29, Atukwatse said laxity has presented key challenges to both government, the private sector, CSOs and the communities in general.
Atukwatse noted that dangers of chemical such as individuals developing health effects like headaches, skin rashes, eye irritations and cancer, endocrine disruption and birth defects are being experienced in Uganda amidst several policies in place.
She said chemicals can’t be avoided but there are best ways of using them when the population is not affected if well sensitized.
The meeting was aimed at launching a campaign of awareness rising on sound management of chemical and wastes by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in conjunction with National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) has launched a 2 year project aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence and preventing conflicts among the refugees and internally displaced people in Kyangwali Refugee camp, Kigyayo and Rwamutonga IDP camps in Kikuube district.
The project was launched in Kyangwali Refugee Resettlement Camp on June 2, where NAPE also opened a peace hub and also launched guidelines for Local Peace Committees that will help resolve conflicts and promote co-existence in the resettlement camp.
Joan Akiiza, the Project Officer and Legal Officer said the Local Peace Committees will facilitate dialogue, manage conflicts, and promote peaceful co-existences and strengthen social cohesion and resilience of local communities.
She explained that the peace hubs will be used to ensure that the conflicts among the refugees and internally displaced people are solved with the cooperation of local communities, leaders and other stake holders while sheltering victims of Gender based Violence.
“The peace hub is going to be a one stop centre for gender based a violence and natural resources conflict that includes land, clean water and firewood,” Akiiza said
Akiiza added that, “two more Peace hubs will be opened in Rwamutonga and Kijayo respectively and the Local Peace Committees that comprise of community members from these respective camps will help in resolving conflicts through dialogue and mediation,” she said during the launch.
Speaking at the launch, Frank Mulamuzi, the NAPE Executive Director said the project was established after realizing that people in the camps have failed to peacefully coexist and effectively use the natural resources due to differences in nationalities, tribes and norms and culture.
He said the project will help to resolve the conflicts through mediation with the use of local peace committees and local government leaders.
“In areas where there are Natural resources, government and other investors tend to mismanage the indigenous communities hence violation of human rights, displacements with less or no compensations, intimidations by security agencies and other forms of violations and as NAPE we are so much concerned,” said Mr. Muramuzi
He also expressed concern that girls and women are the most vulnerable and the project intends to increase the participation and decision-making of women in conflict prevention processes and responses.
“As NAPE we realised that women, girls and children are the most vulnerable so we have opened a peace hub here to handle all those issues for the betterment of everyone,” he explained.
Kebirungi Jolly, the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement Commandant under the Office of the Prime Minister said there have been conflicts over natural resources between host communities and refugees adding that the project is timely.
Kebirungi noted that Kyangwali settlement has several challenges connected to services offered to the refugees and the host communities and that the NAPE project on conflict prevention is relevant to the issues in the camp.
She added that it’s good that the project is 2 years a period in which the communities will be able to learn and acquire skills for sustainability of the project. She pledged support from the OPM office in ensuring the project objectives are met.
Peter Banura, the LCV chairperson for Kikube said the district is overwhelmed by conflicts over natural resources especially land and gender based violence. He said that it’s good the project is focusing on women who are vulnerable and marginalised in our societies because they also face challenges that range from rape to defilement among others.
He also stated “that Financial literacy should be emphasised to minimise conflicts that arise from mukopero’’ this is Money given to the refugees for upkeep and food from partners and agencies which has increased domestic violence in the camp.
The objective of the project is to increase meaningful participation and decision making of women in conflict prevention processes and responses.