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Protecting Mother Nature! Catholic Church, NEMA to make Namugongo “kaveera” free on Martyrs Day

The Catholic Church says in her obligation to protect Mother Nature, pilgrims should avoid use of Kaveera during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations at Namugongo. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA –  The Catholic Church has in partnership with the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) moved to make the Uganda Martyrs Day Celebrations at Namugongo Shrine an environmentally friendly activity, by asking pilgrims to stop using “Kaveera” (polythene bags) during this year’s fete.

The development, partly inspired by Pope Francis’ call to protect “Mother Nature”, in his encyclical “Laudato Si”, was over the weekend announced the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese.

“Having noted the threat posed by “Kaveera” to human and animal health, and integrity of creation as a whole, and concerned about the magnitude of “Kaveera” dropped in around Namugongo every year during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebration, we, therefore, join NEMA in making the Uganda Martyrs Day Celebrations environmentally friendly by making the shrine free of “Kaveera”,” he said.

Bishop Zziwa said that while “Kaveera” may be cheap, convenient and popular, it is non-biodegradable, which makes it very dangerous.

Bishop Zziwa has affirmed the Catholic Church inspiration to protect Mother Nature (PHOTO/PML Daily)

“It takes over 400 years for it to decompose totally. Unfortunately, no one will live long enough to witness natural decomposition of the “Kaveera” they dumped today,” the Bishop said, adding that “Kaveera” has potential to destroy farmland and undermine agriculture which is the backbone of Uganda’s economy and the livelihoods of majority Ugandans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 4th – 6th April 2015 in Geneva, their research confirmative findings to the effect that the increase in non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancer, asthma, diabetes, obesity,) can no longer be attributable to genetic disorders, but partly a result of pollution overload in the environment mainly by chemicals from substances such as plastics.

In his encyclical “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis has in one of his strongest messages on the environment, challenged the faithful to care for Mother Nature (PHOTO/Courtesy)

“As the Catholic Church, we acknowledge the serious obligation to care for all creation, and acknowledge a link that exists between the promotion of human dignity and the right to a clean environment, clean air and clean water free of disease-causing pollution,” he said.

“We are particularly inspired and encouraged by the deep reflections and appeals made by His Holiness Pope Francis in his Encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise You Lord) in which he reiterates the duty humanity owes towards the environment. The Pope appeals to our conscience as believers and people of good will to protect mother earth and planet from destruction,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Zziwa told journalists that the decision has been taken to protect Mother Nature and humanity from the harmful effects of polythene bags. He advised pilgrims to avoid food wrapped or packed in “Kaveera” because it has been scientifically proved to be harmful, and advised them to use paper bags and other biodegradable bags for carrying their belongings to the shrine.

He said the programme to discourage use of kaveera and protecting the environment will be extended to all other Catholic Shrines and institutions, as part of the Church’s contribution to posterity.

ishop Zziwa poses for a picture with NEMA Executive Director Dr. Tom Okurut (L), Msgr. John B. Kauta, Secretary General Uganda Episcopal Conference and officials from NBS TV and Vivo Energy after a press conference at the Catholic Secretariat at Nsambya on Friday (PHOTO/PML Daily)

He said the Uganda Episcopal Conference is pleased to work with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to educate the public about the dangers posed by the Kaveera as part of empowering the public with information to make their own decisions.

According to NEMA, and the other partners in the project, green dustbins will be deployed at the major entrances and exit into Namugongo to collect polythene bags which will accidentally find their way to the shrine.

Dr. Tom Okurut, the Executive Director of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) says the joint campaign with the Catholic Church is being carried out in partnership with VIVO Energy (Shell) and Next Media Services (NBS TV) on the occasion of the celebration of Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3rd.

Dr Okurut says the Uganda Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo is a sacred international tourism destination which must be protected from environmental pollution. He said the campaign provides an opportunity for educating and recruiting pilgrims as ambassadors for the protection of the environment.

According to Dr Okurut, NEMA is counting on the ripple effect of pilgrims carrying back the message of the abolition of the use of the Kaveera to galvanize implementation of laws outlawing the use of polythene ene bags below 30 microns in the country. He says the campaign is running under the theme: “Tuve KuKaveera”.

Below is Bishop Zziwa’s full statement

Press Statement
on the “Free Kavera Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Numugongo”

People of Goodwill
Fellow Citizens
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today the Uganda Episcopal Conference launches a joint campaign against “Kaveera” in and around the premises of the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo. This initiative has been undertaken by the Uganda Episcopal Conference in conjunction with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with its partners; Vivo Energy, Shell Uganda, NBS and Next Media Services.

As citizens and partners in the development of Uganda, we are inspired in this initiative by the current global campaigns against environmental degradation. We are also guided by the several protocols to which the Government of Uganda is signatory and by the Constitution and laws of Uganda that govern our interaction with the environment.

We are particularly inspired and encouraged by the deep reflections and appeals made by His Holiness Pope Francis in his Encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise You Lord) in which he reiterates the duty humanity owes towards the environment. The Pope appeals to our conscience as believers and people of good will to protect mother earth and planet from destruction.

Having noted the threat posed by “Kaveera” to human and animal health, and integrity of creation as a whole, and concerned about the magnitude of “Kaveera” dropped in around Namugongo every year during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebration, we therefore join NEMA in making the Uganda Martyrs Day Celebrations environmentally friendly by making the shrine free of “Kaveera”.

“Kaveera”, as many of you know, may be cheap, convenient and popular but is non-biodegradable. It takes over 400 years for it to decompose totally. Unfortunately, no one will live long enough to witness natural decomposition of the “Kaveera” they dumped today. “Kaveera” has the potential to destroy farmland and undermine agriculture which is the backbone of Uganda’s economy and the livelihoods of majority Ugandans.

With regard to human health, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 4th – 6th April 2015 in Geneva, their research confirmative findings to the effect that the increase in non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancer, asthma, diabetes, obesity,) can no longer be attributable to genetic disorders, but partly a result of pollution overload in the environment mainly by chemicals from substances such as plastics.

As the Catholic Church, we acknowledge the serious obligation to care for all creation and acknowledge a link that exists between the promotion of human dignity and the right to a clean environment, clean air and clean water free of disease-causing pollution.

As such, the Uganda Episcopal Conference declares that starting this year, the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations held annually on June 3 at the Catholic Shrine in Namugongo, will no longer welcome “Kaveera”. In subsequent years, this initiative will be extended to other Catholic Shrines. Pilgrims are encouraged to carry items in reusable cloth, papyrus (Kikapu) or paper bags. Green bins will, however, be provided for disposal of “Kaveera” for those who might have forgotten and come with them for any other reason.

On the occasion of celebrating Uganda Martyrs day, the Uganda Episcopal Conference calls upon every person of goodwill to think of the many ways in which they can participate in maintaining serenity and integrity of creation. As for the faithful, we call on you to make this call part of your witnessing to the Gospel as well as the responsibility given to man in Genesis Chapter 1 verse 28. We encourage the clergy to disseminate this information through the various media available to them, including announcements during Holy Mass.

We wish you all fruitful celebrations of the Feast of the Uganda Martyrs.

‘For God and my Country’.
Given this day of 10th May, 2019 at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat, Nsambya-Kampala.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Uganda,

+Joseph Antony Zziwa,
Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese, and Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference.

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