NAPE Raises Alarm on Superficial Celebrations, Ineffective Environmental Legislation

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 | By

As Uganda joined the global community in observing World Environment Day, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) voiced concerns about the increasingly superficial nature of such celebrations and the inadequate enforcement of laws aimed at safeguarding the environment. 

Frank Muramuzi, the Executive Director of NAPE, says that every year, authorities in Uganda responsible for environmental protection come together to celebrate these special occasions and deliver impressive speeches. However, he emphasizes that these events often lack any tangible impact on the ground. 

Muramuzi also points out that despite the enactment of numerous laws aimed at protecting the environment, they remain ineffective in practice. Many individuals continue to engage in destructive activities with impunity, further exacerbating environmental degradation.

On June 5th, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) organized the national event for World Environment Day at Kololo ceremonial grounds. The event centered around the theme “Stop Plastic Pollution,” drawing attention to the urgent need to address the growing issue of plastic waste. 

During previous discussions, Dr. Akankwasah Barirega, NEMA’s Executive Director, stated that the World Environment Day event served as a starting point for actively combating plastic pollution in Uganda. He mentioned NEMA’s proposal to restrict the importation of pallets used in the “virgin production” of plastics, aiming to promote recycling instead. 

Practical solutions are already being discussed with major plastic manufacturers and importers.  However, NAPE believes that focusing solely on plastic pollution neglects the broader range of environmental challenges facing Uganda. Muramuzi suggests that a comprehensive approach is necessary to address all environmental issues holistically, rather than solely emphasizing plastic pollution.    

In their statement on World Environment Day, environmentalists also highlighted a series of recent incidents in Uganda directly linked to environmental degradation. These incidents include bridge collapses, mudslides and frequent flooding in various parts of the country. 

NAPE expresses concern over the deterioration of wetlands and natural forests, as well as the issue of illegal sand mining and flower cultivation in the Lutembe Ramsar site. These activities seem to occur with the knowledge of those in authority or are ignored when they happen. Regarding plastics, they fault government of Uganda for impeding efforts to tackle the plastic challenge.

They specifically point out the frustration caused by the government’s failure to effectively regulate the use of plastic bags, locally known as “Kaveera,” and its continued issuance of permits to plastic manufacturers and importers. 

NAPE demands that if government of Uganda is genuinely committed to addressing the issue, it should cease issuing licenses to such companies. They also call for the implementation of incentives to encourage plastic collection and recycling, among other proposed solutions.