KAMPALA – As Uganda’s forest cover continues to deteriorate, the Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga has tipped Ugandans to up their environmental conservation efforts, to curb the effects of climate change.
This, he said during the launch of the Ekibira Kya Kabaka Initiative (EKKKI) at Bulange Mengo on Friday afternoon.
According to Mayiga, the EKKKI which was launched by Buganda Kingdom in partnership with Uganda Biodiversity Fund and Absa Bank Uganda among other partners is aimed at amplifying the campaign to protect nature, and county leaders have already established land on which indigenous trees will be planted.
“Uganda was called the Pearl of Africa because of the beauty of nature. We have the duty to restore the beauty of this country and we can do it; we need to put young people at the forefront in the conservation of nature. Let’s plant trees on all sorts of events, imagine if we planted 1000- 1,500 trees every week,” said Mayiga.
He wondered why some investors continue establishing factories in wetlands.
“Are the wetlands places for establishing factories? Why does someone acquire a license to establish a factory in a wetland? National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) should stop giving people licenses to construct factories.”
Nicolas Magara, a Commissioner at the Ministry of Water and Environment who represented the State Minister in Charge of Environment Beatrice Anywa applauded the Buganda Kingdom for the conservation initiative and asked other kingdoms to do the same.
“Replicate this in other Kingdoms such as Toro, Busoga, etc. The EKKKI is good and timely, therefore I thank the Buganda Kingdom for the program that perfectly fits in Government programs. I look forward to supporting this initiative as a pilot project for agro-forest restoration,” he stated.
Magara asked all the Local Governments in the 18 counties that make up Buganda Kingdom to be part of the EKKKI program.
The Absa Bank Uganda Executive Director/ Chief Finance Officer Michael Segwaya said environmental conservation is a way to go in a bid to address climate change which poses a significant risk to our people in the areas of environmental degradation, food security, and the overall economic impact to source of livelihoods as a largely agricultural nation.
“That is why we should all care. The impact of climate change affects us all and calls for collaboration between government, cultural institutions, the private sector, and development partners alike to address it,” he stated.
Under the EKKK partnership, Segwaya said Absa Bank Uganda has pledged 50,000 indigenous and fruit trees. He said the decision to plant indigenous trees, especially fruit trees, is deliberate because they have greater chances of survival within the community.
“We are also aware that the success of initiatives such as these can only yield results if we all embrace them and secure the support of communities to play an active role towards the protection of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.”
Dennis Mugaga, the Head of the Climate Finance Unit at the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development said that to undertake climate initiatives including biodiversity in all sectors, Gov’t needs financing of $28.1b.
“As Government, we are investing in sectors related to climate initiatives such as renewable energy, and agro-industrialisation. We also need to make sure that people can benefit from carbon markets from what we are doing; keeping that coffee or trees should be able to get you money,” he said.
The Executive Director of Uganda Biodiversity Trust Fund Ivan Amanigaruhanga said that Uganda has been losing an average of over 80,000 hectares of forests annually, according to Global Forest Watch from 2001 to 2021, which is a big worry.
“Out of the top 8 districts which were responsible for 54% of all tree cover loss in Uganda over the same period, Luwero had the highest tree loss at 90,600 hectares compared to the national average. Other Buganda districts where tree loss was worrying included Mubende (79,500 hectares) and Mukono at 56,000 hectares,” he stated.
Amanigaruhanga said it is timely that EKKKI is supported by the public to restore the degraded forest landscapes and contribute to the mitigation of climate change effects and other associated benefits of a quality environment.