Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Hoima, western Uganda have urged the government to increase funding for environmental protection to protect the environment and also fight climate change in Uganda.
Their demand comes at the time when the world is celebrating the International Environment Day done as a reminder that efforts are needed to ensure that the environment is protected from destruction for human settlement and economic objectives.
The government has allocated Shs20b for the restoration of the environment through tree planting for raising tree seedlings in this 2023/24 Financial Year budget.
The CSOs’ call for an increase in funding follows the irresponsible use of the environment with the forests most affected mainly for timber harvesting, charcoal burning, agriculture, industry establishment and human settlement.
Mr Moses Semahunge, the Manager Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project (BCCP), says environmentalists’ efforts to fight environmental destruction by encroachers are crippled by limited financial resource envelopes from the government coffers that would be used to facilitate them in their campaigns to the grassroots.
He says despite the many environmental conservation protection bodies in the country, little has been done to ensure that the environment is protected fully from degradation due to lack of enough funds to facilitate environmental conservation activities.
The manager also says gaps have been found in lack of committed joint work to safeguard the available resources especially forests that habour a multiplicity of both flora and fauna for compound developmental initiatives in the country.
National Forestry Authority (NFA), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and different government ministries like the Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities among others.
Mr Semahunge wants effective penalties against people who commit environmental crimes.
The Executive Director for Recreation for Development and Peace Uganda, Mr Nasser Biira Kiwanuka, says the funds that the government allocated for the conservation of environment are inadequate funding.
He observes that environmental degradation has shifted from local communities to government officials who would instead be environment defenders.
He says identifying institutions with the mandate to plant trees purposely for conserving the natural environment will among other measures help in the campaign to address all challenges affecting environmental conservation in the country.
He urges the government to strictly walk the talk of environmental conservation to combat climate change that has started manifesting itself in floods among other natural catastrophes in some parts of the country.