Climate change worries Buliisa, authorities call for tree planting

Tree planting campaign in Buliisa District to overcome climate change.

Following the current climate change hitting Uganda, authorities in Buliisa District are worried that the situation will run out of control if all stakeholders do not intervene immediately.

Mr Godfrey Bigirwenkya, an environmentalist at Bubwe village in Kihungya sub-county has expressed fear that given the rate at which the environment is being degraded in the district, Buliisa will in the near future be totally arid.

He said most wetlands have been encroached on especially for agriculture, putting the lives of people and domestic animals at stake since they depend on wetlands for survival.

“There may be no more water sources in Buliisa in years to come due to increased encroachment on wetlands. This is the time to fight for the environment and guard it jealously because the future of Buliisa having water sources is narrowing at a faster rate,” he warned.

The Kigungu Village chairman in Kihungya sub-county, Mr Wilson Kisembo, partly blames government for the crunching climate change.

He said by being adamant to evict encroachers from wetlands, it means that government is contributing to climate change in the country.

“Government has done little to evict people who have permanent buildings and investments in wetlands. Some people constructed permanent buildings too close to lakes while others are carrying out agricultural practices in wetlands.  

“By being adamant to kick these people out of wetlands, it is clear that government is contributing greatly to climate change and its adverse effects on people,” he said.

The Water Front Club submerged by Lake Victoria as water level rises in Entebbe.

The Kihungya Sub-county Assistant Community Development Officer, urged residents to peacefully raise against people who destroy the environment for financial selfishness at the detriment of a healthy community.           

The Buliisa District Environment Officer, has urged all Local Council (LC) chairpersons to mobilise communities to engage in tree planting across the district.

Speaking to our reporter at the district headquarters on Monday, Mr Rogers Tumusiime, said climate change is manifesting itself in the rising water levels of Lakes Albert and Victoria in western and central Uganda and also the rising temperatures in the country.

Lake Albert water rises invading houses in Buliisa District.

The environmentalist blamed climate change on indiscriminate tree felling propelled by human activities like agriculture, charcoal burning and settlement.

“Unselective tree cutting for different uses and encroaching on lake shores and river banks for human settlement and agriculture have greatly contributed to climate change seen in floods that are claiming human and animal life in different parts of Uganda,” he said.

Budongo forest degraded.

Mr Tumusiime urged LC authorities to promote tree planting campaigns to overcome climate change devastating especially Africa.

He urged LC authorities to promote tree planting to stave off climate change; advising that people can plant dual-purpose quick maturing giant lira and neem tree species for hard wood and environmental protection.

“It is important for LCs in different parts of the country to form environment committees which will encourage communities to plant trees and overcome climate change that is aggressively affecting human and animal life,” he said.

Tree planting campaign in Buliisa District

Buliisa is a semi-arid district in Bunyoro with a big percentage of its soil being sandy. It is also one of the areas with the hottest temperature in the sub-region.

Climate change has already affected people living at Lake Albert whose water level has risen in Buliisa, Hoima, Kikuube and Kagadi districts in Bunyoro and in Pakwach district in northern Uganda.

Flooding caused by the rising water of Lake Albert has already forced residents of Bugoma and Ndaiga landing sites in Kikuube and Kagadi districts respectively out of their houses.

On Sunday, security personnel raised a red flag and forcibly evicted the residents of Bugoma landing site in Kyangwali sub-county to save them from Lake Albert floods, according to the Albertine regional police spokesperson, Mr Julius Allan Hakiza.

A submerged ferry waiting shed at Wanseko landing site in Buliisa District in February 2020.

Six people died and several houses were destroyed in floods in Kasese district after Rivers Rwembya and Rhubiriha burst their banks causing widespread destruction on either side of the Uganda and DR Congo border area.

In central region, climate change has seen Lake Victoria water levels also rise flooding buildings that were constructed too close to the water body. Flooding has forced many out of their houses.

Environmentalist and Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ms Gorreti Kitutu, attributed the rising of lake water levels to degrading the catchments that causes silting.

A beach submerged by Lake Victoria

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