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.
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.
Parents in Kayonza Sub County in Kassanda district have expressed concern over the increasing school drop out of children to tap into gold money in Kitumbi-Kayonza gold mining area.
The parents say drop out has been fuelled by the long holiday due to COVID-19 lockdown which has lured many children into trying gold mining as a lucrative venture of earning a living.
Samuel Mogen, a gold miner and a resident at Kayonza village says despite schools opening, children who are in mining are unbothered about reporting back which deprives them of their bright future.
Mogen explained that several meetings have been held to ensure children are chased away from gold mining area but just because leaders are reluctant, children continue to work in the mines.
However, Musa Nduga, the Kayonza Kitumbi Gold Miners Associations’ site supervisor says efforts to chase children from the mines have failed since these children make quick money.
He says they have introduced a new system of carrying out abrupt operations to chase children out of the mines, which too, has encountered resistance.
Clare Kamagara, the Kasanda District Environment Officer noted that district is not well facilitated to conduct operations and sensitizations in the mines to get children out of the mines.
She says though it’s illegal to use the children in the mines, it goes out of hand due to poor facilitation of the district leaders.
Peruth Atukwatse, the Project Officer for Sound Chemical Management Officer at National Association of Professional Environments (NAPE) explains that much as the local leaders have failed to act accordingly, more efforts will be doubled by NAPE through sensitizing communities and engaging leaders.
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.
Micro plastics have been detected in Fish and water according to Noble Banadda a professor from Makerere University.
Professor Banadda says the study about Micro plastics is new and that the technology was not available until recently. Banadda says they detected the micro plastics during a study being conducted by Makerere University and the University of Cambridge.
In an interview with green radio Banadda said plastics take long to decompose but give off tiny materials measuring five millimeters.
He said these go into water and also contaminate fish and food.
Banadda says plastic pollution results in flooding and damage to coastal and marine ecosystems and is creating an unhealthy environment for local populations.
“Success will entail residents engaging in the separation of plastics from their regular waste as well as community members adopting better practices”, he said.
Banadda said many consumers are not aware how much plastic there may be in the personal care items they use daily on their faces and bodies.
The professor says from the plastic in packaging to the under-5mm micro plastics hidden within the products, including beads or glitters; they are designed to wash down the drain, travel through rivers and ultimately end up in the sea.
Banadda says Micro plastics are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants and attract waterborne toxins and bacteria that stick to their surfaces.
In addition to endangering marine life, the health implications of micro plastics on humans are not yet fully known, but considering their prevalence in clothes, food, water and cosmetics, are expected to be far reaching.
Tiny pieces of degraded plastic, synthetic fibers and plastic beads, collectively called micro plastics, have turned up in every corner of the planet.
Both micro plastics and these chemicals may accumulate up the food chain, potentially impacting whole ecosystems, including the health of soils in which we grow our food. Micro plastics in the water we drink and the air we breathe can also hit humans directly.
Micro plastics could be a last straw for species subject to pressures as chemical pollutants, overfishing and climate change.
Jeanette Ushanda 38, a refugee living in Maratatu village, Kyangwali resettlement camp in Greater Hoima district says collecting firewood has become a serious source of conflict between the host communities and the refugees.
Ushanda, the already traumatized refugee who ran from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC three years back, narrates that she has to negotiate access to gather firewood in land surrounding the camp or else she risks assault and violence.
“Collecting firewood comes with tension, violence and insecurity. One time I was beaten by a Ugandan national because I had accessed his land to collect firewood without his permission. He even took away my firewood,” Ushanda narrated painfully.
Ushanda is among the people who experience human rights violations and still find themselves surrounded by conflicts within the displaced camps in Kijayo and Rwamutonga camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Kyangwali resettlement camp.
Edward Tumusiime, the Kijayo Village chairperson says that scarce resources and land shortages have resulted into conflicts among the internally displaced people in Kijayo both at household and community level.
“The displaced people lack resources like land, money and food. This brings conflicts in families as people struggle with poverty and breaks into gender based violence. At community level, these affected people conflict with the host communities in search for firewood, food and money because they are looked at as competitors. So conflicts are common” said Tumusiime.
Jolly Kebirungi, the Kyangwali resettlement commandant under the Office of the Prime Minister explains that the upsurge number of refugees has led to scarcity of resources as this has resulted into conflicts with in the camp.
“The number of refugees shot from 35,000 in 2013 to over 120,000 in 2017 due to influx of Congolese refugees. As the number increases, the land allocated to them reduces, the water points get crowded with long queues and even the food given to them by World Food Program in terms of money has been reducing. There is also much pressure on the forests so we limit them from accessing the forest reserve for firewood. So all these are causing conflicts here,” Kebirungi noted.
These issues were raised during the baseline study that was conducted by National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) to determine the nature and magnitude of conflicts in Kijayo and Rwamutonga camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Kyangwali resettlement camp in February.
Joan Akiiza, the NAPE Lawyer says the survey is aimed at guiding NAPE on intervening in peace keeping efforts in the camps by formation of community-based institutions known as Local Peace Committees (LPCs).
“Local Peace Committees will help in negotiations and mediations to reduce conflicts and promote peaceful reconciliation, and also train community members on peace and conflict management in order to solve their own conflicts,” Akiiza said.
She also noted that NAPE plans to empower communities especially women in the camps with knowledge and skills of improving their livelihoods to reduce poverty and maintain peace.
The two year project dubbed, “Enhancing the role and capacity of grassroots women to promote peaceful co-existence and prevent conflicts” will be operating in Kijayo , Kyangwali, Rwamutonga camps in Kikuube districts. The project is funded by Women Peace Humanitarian Fund with technical support from UN WOMEN.