Uganda’s infrastructural project developments exert pressure on natural resource base

An oil road in Buliisa District. Road infrastructural development is among the projects exerting pressure on the natural resource base in Uganda.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) observes that the high number of infrastructural projects is exerting pressure on the natural resource base in Uganda.

In a press statement, the Authority says pressure is being felt due to increasing demand for fuel and construction materials like sand, gravel and stone from quarries, wood, clay and water.

The numerous projects in question being initiated in different parts of the country are specifically in the oil and gas, infrastructure, industry and Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors.

“The dominance of these sectors is attributed to the last two National Development Plans (NDP III & NDP II) that put emphasis on completion of high level projects such as industrial parks, ICT connectivity, hydropower dams like Karuma, Isimba and Nyagak among others, oil roads and support infrastructure.” The statement reads in part.  

NEMA says over the last 10 years, it has registered continuous growth in the number Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) reports specifically in ICT, infrastructure, industry and oil and gas sectors accounting for 91.3% of the total number of projects approved.

ESIA is an analytical and systematic process that examines the likely environmental and social aspects of proposed development projects.

The process enables NEMA, the relevant Lead Agencies and stakeholders to identify and propose appropriate mitigation and monitoring measures for both anticipated and unanticipated environmental risks.

The Authority says project developments have given rise to environmental destruction in areas where the projects are being carried out with restoration being either gradual or insufficient.

“As a result, Uganda is facing degradation of the environment in some areas through removal of natural vegetation, distortion of drainage channels, pollution of air and water; and yet the restoration of scarred areas has been slow or inadequate.

Since 2011, a total of 11,604 project proposals from different sectors have been submitted to NEMA, out of which 7,637 have been approved while the rest have been rejected, the press statement says.

However, NEMA says these projects have created employment opportunities for the youth, expanded income and tax bases, stable internet connectivity, a constant supply and nationwide distribution of electricity and water, and upgraded road infrastructure.

This has also facilitated e-commerce and sped up monetary transactions among others, according to NEMA.

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