An 80-year-old Ex-Chief of Protocol for Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom (BKK) in mid-western Uganda, Mr Ashraf Nyorano Mugenyi, has decried the effects of climate change that he says are incessant.
He recalls the cold nights when he would cover himself to enjoy sleep and compares with nowadays when he spends nights with windows open to counteract heat waves.
Mr Mugenyi dates his noticeable climate change and unpredictable weather report between 2005 and 2022.
The ex-chief of protocol said this during a special interview with Kazi-njema online radio’s John Kibego as the top world environmental and leadership brains meet in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to discuss mechanisms averting the growing climate change danger.
Seated at his home in Butanjwa cell, East Division of Hoima city, Mr Mugenyi also expresses concern about what he describes as carelessness by some youth.
He cites as one of his most annoying experiences when his son recently cut down his about 70-year-old jackfruit tree and turned it into charcoal without his consent.
“My son, born to my brother, returned from Kampala where he stayed for some time and just cut down my jackfruit tree. He had returned from Kampala. I was shocked to see my tree cut down on return from Hoima city,” he narrates.
To him, it was a sign that many people no longer mind about conservation.
“I asked him why? He told me that the tree was too close to the house and I asked what? We built the house when that tree was there,” he wonders.
However, shortly later, Mr Mugenyi was shocked to see the young man asking for a jackfruit to eat when a boy harvested it from a remnant tree. The old man was still angered and denied him the fruit.
“I said no, you will not eat the jackfruit because if you wanted it why did you cut the whole tree? These are the things annoying us as elders,” he says.
Mr Mugenyi fears that Uganda might turn into a desert if those in leadership and the citizens themselves continue valuing money against nature.
“In the past, cultivators could spare big trees in gardens but nowadays not even grass is spared,” he notes.
On the side of national governance, he says the present leaders are doing little to protect nature compared to the early times of this government and the regimes before.
“There was a strict law on tree cutting. Even if it is your tree in the courtyard, you would need permission to cut it. Without permission from the government, you would not cut it. Power saws were also few but now it is the order of the day. Leaders should think of enforcing the laws,” he suggests.
Asked about why the environment is being degraded at the time many people are educated and could be able to appreciate the importance of natural forests, Mr Mugenyi said, ‘they think they are educated. By the way, we were more educated than them because we appreciated and still appreciate nature.’
He calls upon the people holding power to consider consulting the elderly in order to get a clear picture of what and how things were compared with today in order to get proper conclusions.
On the international community, Mr Mugenyi says all those sitting in Dubai for the COP28 should consider allocation funds to sensitise the communities about conservation before it is too late.
“In the past, a home had some trees for a couple of purposes including food in the form of fruits, windbreaks, herbal medicine, construction materials and beautifications. Nowadays people do not look at all these values holistically,” he says.
Mr Mugenyi says he is always irked by the news about relentless encroachment on the major forest reserves of Bugoma and Budongo that are being depleted in the name of economic development.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) of the United Nations has reported that this ending year – 2023 has been the warmest in recorded history of mankind.
A report from the same organisation in 2020 indicated that the 2010 – 2020 decade was the warmest of all decades in history.
It warned that more than a million creatures were at risk of extinction due to climate change effects.
Reports of environmental degradation are all over the world steered by population pressure and industrialisation.
The campaign for transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the talk of the day globally.
Environmental activists state that the campaign is being threatened by some international conglomerates profiting from it who they claim are infiltrating international discussions about climate change seeking opportunities to derail decisions.