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.
Artisanal small scale gold miners in Kassanda district have blamed their leaders for not enforcing occupational safety and health measures which puts their life at risk.
The artisanal miners said Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association (KKMA) leaders have not taken action on the artisanal miners who access the mining area without personal protective equipment like gloves and helmets and allow children to access the mines; which exposes them to health risks associated with direct use of mercury in extracting gold.
“We use mercury with little knowledge on its effects on our health. Why can’t the leaders be strict in ensuring that before anyone accesses the mines, they have to be having gloves and helmets,” wondered Sophina Nakate, a gold miner.
This was during the awareness raising workshop on the effects of mercury and other chemicals in Kasanda district that was conducted by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) on 4th May, 2021 in Kayonza mines.
However, Musa Nduga, the KKMA’s site supervisor says their call of putting on protective gears to miners has fallen in deaf ears.
Dr. Medih Kyakonye, the Kasanda District Environmental Officer, said women in mines in Kasanda take children to the mines; breast feed children and carry pregnancies while touching mercury, which is very dangerous on their health and children’s growth.
He said; “As a student pursuing PHD in Environmental Chemistry, I have found through research that mercury affects the central nervous system and causes reproductive errors like Mongolism and Down syndrome on children. And the problem with mercury is that it does not reduce and it increases through generations.”
He explained that protection of consumers against dangerous chemicals starts with an individual by ensuring responsible consumption, self-regulation against dangerous chemicals and knowing their consumer rights.
Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Manager for Chemicals management and climate change at NAPE said miners should always be mindful of the future generation while using mercury and ensure they embrace mercury-free methodology.
NAPE will continue sensitizing people on sound chemical use and management and possible alternatives of mercury in gold mining.
The miners said they use mercury without knowing its adverse effects and hailed NAPE for continued sensitization and their efforts to introduce Borax method. They formed a Community Green Radio listeners club dubbed “Kayonza mercury-free listeners club” to increase awareness on the dangers of mercury among the miners using the radio.
District leaders in greater Hoima district have promised to conduct a dialogue aimed at addressing the conflicts facing communities in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Kijayo and Refugee camp in Kyangwali.
During a validation workshop for a baseline survey on land/natural resources, tribal and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) conflicts facing communities from Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Rwamutonga and Kijayo Internally Displaced People’s Camp in Kikuube, the affected communities decried continued human rights violations under the watch of district authorities.
The LCI chairman for Kijayo village, Edward Tumusiime said the internally displaced people in Kijayo camp have continued to conflict with Hoima Sugar workers over water, land and access roads despite reporting the matter to relevant authorities.
“Our access roads have been destroyed with molasses from Hoima sugar factory, the water sources are all contaminated with molasses. We have no access to water as women and girls have to walk long distances to find safe and clean water. We have dragged Hoima Sugar Ltd to court seeking for justice for our land but the courts haven’t given any ruling on the case. Why have leaders abandoned us?” said the Tumusiime.
Ms.Harriet Kemirembe, another resident of Kijayo camp asked the district leaders to reach on ground to understand the challenges people are going through.
In response, the Kikuube Chief Administrative Officer, Moses Kapoloni said he will call for a meeting involving the affected people, the district leaders and Hoima Sugar Limited to have a discussion on peaceful co-existence. He said natural resources should be shared equitably since they are for all.
“It is unfortunate that people in the camp are facing such violations. I had sent the Environmental Officer to discuss the water contamination issue with Hoima sugar limited and I thought the issues were resolved. But since it has persisted, we shall have a dialogue immediately after swearing in of district political leadership involving all the district leaders, Hoima Sugar Limited and Kijayo camp residents so that we can forge a way forward together. Meanwhile, the area chairperson should write to me officially over the contaminated water so that I handle this immediately,” he said
In Kyangwali, the refugees decried conflicts over land, sexual exploitation and corruption in accessing health services calling on the district leaders to meet the Officer of the Prime Minister over the matter.
“It’s hard to access health services or get employment opportunities without money. If you are a lady, they want to first sexually abuse you. Limited resources like money and land have also become the center of gender based violence. All these need redress with the intervention of the district authorities,” Ms. Margret Angelic a refugee in Kyangwali said while presenting issues of Kyangwali.
Kapoloni said he will investigate the issues and address them with OPM immediately.
“Issues of sexual exploitation and corruption should be reported, they are criminal matters that cannot go unpunished,” he responded.
Joan Akiza, the NAPE Lawyer and Project Officer for the 2 year project on conflict prevention said such interfaces with the authorities help the affected people to seek redress on issues affecting them. She said the approach of the project is dialogue and mediation to ensure peaceful co-existence of all persons in these camps.
She said NAPE will follow up and organize the dialogues so that the issues raised are addressed and communities continue to live peacefully.