KAMPALA – Thousands of people, including primary school children, university students and members of the public, have lobbied Members of Parliament and government, calling for urgent action to tackle the plastic pollution and critical loss of nature.
About 12,000 people gathered at City Square in Kampala on Friday before marching to Lugogo—pilling pressure on politicians, according to the organizers the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) whose members include aid agencies, social groups, and conservation organisations.
The action against plastic pollution comes after growing environmental concerns in the country and increasing warnings of the need for unprecedented action to tackle the menace.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga who flagged off the march in city centre said she was much concerned by the magnitude of the damage caused by plastics, directing all government agencies charged with environmental protection to carry out research into proper plastic waste management to enable to government makes informed decisions on handling the highly contentious matter.
Ms. Kadaga noted that it is unfortunate that much of the information concerning plastics are global statistics that cannot be applied locally and hence a need for locally made research that can help in policy formulation and decision making.
“I want to challenge the Ugandan agencies charged with the protection of our environment to carry out country-based studies on plastics so as to come up with facts that will help us in policy formulation and decision making.” She noted.
The speaker who is passionate about nature said there has been no serious action taken to regulate and protect the environment citing the National Environment Bill of banning polythene bags below 30 microns that was passed by Parliament in 2017.
“Let us participate in the Earth Hour campaign by raising our voices against plastic pollution. Let us take individual actions against plastic pollution and make institutional policies against plastic pollution to safeguard the environment for Nature and people to thrive,” Kadaga added, thanking WWF for taking charge of matters related to Mother Nature.
“Through your effort, hard work and persistence, we have seen Earth Hour grow from a mere small gathering of conservationists to include government, businesses, schools and the public and is currently standing at 1 billion globally and over 1 million in Uganda,” she said.
Ms. Beatrice Anywar, the newly appointed Minister of State for Environment said: “Plastic waste is choking our country, polluting the air we breathe, blocking drainage channels as well as contributing to flooding and putting stress on our wetlands.”
David Duli, the Country Manager at said: “Public concern is at its highest level. It is a mainstream issue. There are lots of organisations working hard to raise the profile and focus their MPs’ minds on policies and actions to make sure we take action.”
Campaigners, political leaders and people of various faiths, led by new State Minister Anywar and Uganda Police Band proceeded along Kampala road, to Lugogo at Kampala City Council Authority grounds in a ‘one million march”-walking about 5KM to reinforce the message against plastics.
A primary school headteacher brought pupils from her school to the lobby. She said: “Our children may be too young to vote but they are not too young to have their voices heard.”
WWF Communications officer Happy Ali said they engaged the youths because they have become bigger influencers in national affairs.