NGO urges gov’t to conserve, protect environment

A man holds a dustbin made of plastic waste bottles. (Image: Courtesy)

The Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Mitigation Uganda (CEPCOM), has called upon key government political players to dynamically show their will to conserve and protect the environment warning that being nonchalance will definitely exacerbate climate change in the country.

Mr Stephen Kuteesa says people’s tendency to cut trees for charcoal and improper disposal of plastic waste without stern government reprimand is among others leading to environmental destruction that ultimately results in unfavourable environmental conditions.

“If a community fails to protect the environment and cuts trees for charcoal, they will definitely identify with floods and landslides. If we indiscriminately keep on disposing of waste especially plastics and clog up in water channels, we shall have floods. When you see floods and drought, just know somebody has been cutting trees. Clogged flooding comes as a result of indiscriminate disposing of waste,” he says.

Mr Kuteesa notes that it is everyone’s responsibility to save the environment from degradation as government ensures that laws protecting the environment are effectively enforced and implemented.

To serve as an example, the Executive Director says CEPCOM is mobilising and sensitising communities about poor disposal of waste adding that their engagements are based on communities that collect plastic waste.

“We mobilise sports activities on various themes about environmental protection in different areas. We must ensure our environment is conserved, protected and regenerated where it has been degraded.

CEPCOM has since 2019 engaged in plastic recycling and reusing and empowering in various cluster groups involving women, youth and men being introduced to what is termed as waste can be used as a source of livelihood.

“They collect all sorts of plastics. Since we aim at conserving the environment, we buy all the accumulated volume. There are other groups which do the sorting according to colour, size and density. Other groups have been skilled to reuse plastics by transforming them into useful items like dustbins from used plastic bottles, flower vessels and kitchen gardens,” Mr Kuteesa adds.

CEPCOM displays dustbins made of plastic waste bottles. (Image: Courtesy)

The organisation sells excess plastic material to recycling plants like Plastic Recycling Industries Uganda Ltd (PRI) and Standard Manufacturing Ltd.

Emphasis is now put on adding value to the collected plastic materials that are sold to foreign plastic manufacturing companies

“The plastic material is crushed, exported and is returned as new bottles. We aim at acquiring machines and producing products ready for use. Protecting the environment starts with us. We need to change our behaviour and people’s mindset that throwing a plastic bottle as you go to Mbale will be littering. You find someone, buy a soda, take it, throw the lid in Nakawa, bottle in Mukono, label in Mabira, so he has littered in three places,” Mr Kuteesa says.

Adding: “We want taxis and car owners to have small containers where passengers can dump their waste. When you go to dumping places, you find all sorts of waste. You find medical waste, glasses, plastic and others.”

Mr Kuteesa advises Ugandans to stop crying about climate change including droughts, floods and landslides yet they are the ones cutting trees to cause all these urging the government to show political will to conserve the environment noting that Uganda has the best conservation laws and guidelines.

“Sometimes I wonder when they say we have independent authorities such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Planning Authority (NPA) and the National Meteorological (NMA). What kind of authority do they preside over when the population is mismanaging the environment? If you can’t tell me that we shall have hunger in Karamoja, what authority do you have?” Mr Kuteesa wonders advising the authorities to work together to mitigate climate change.

This, during an exhibition at Bulange, Mengo.


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