Uganda’s wetlands face depletion

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A wetland destroyed in Uganda

The Ministry of Water and Environment has warned that wetland coverage in Uganda will stand at only 1.6 percent by 2040 if measures are not taken to stop wetland destruction.

In the report released this week, the ministry says concerted efforts to mitigate wetland destruction have to be accelerated to reverse the trend through deliberate and dedicate restoration programmes in the entire country.

Statistics reveal that wetland coverage countrywide has plummeted from 37,346.3sqkm in 1994 standing at 15 percent to 21,526.3sqkm representing 8.9 percent of the total national surface area.

Records further indicate that wetland coverage in Uganda’s land cover stood at 15.5 percent in 1994 but by 2016, it had reduced to 8.9 percent. Wetland coverage is projected to be at 8.4 percent by 2019.

The report signed by State Minister for Environment, Ms Beatrice Anywar reads in part that “the rate of loss and degradation of wetlands is accelerating in all regions of the country and not matching up with wetland restoration targets and resources”.

Eastern Uganda is the leading region that has degraded wetlands at 46 percent while northern Uganda registered the lowest wetland degradation at 21 percent.

The central region stands at 29 percent followed by western region at 28 percent.

The report that will soon be tabled on the floor of parliament indicates that wetlands have been degraded for expansion of subsistence agriculture, industrial developments and settlements.

Mbale has the most degraded wetlands with 99 percent of its wetlands under threat while Ntoroko has the lowest with most of its wetland coverage intact at 98 percent.

To mitigate wetland degradation, cabinet has approved the cancellation of land titles issued in wetlands and on public land acquired illegally after 1995.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has so far cancelled 298 titles in wetlands in Wakiso, Kampala and Mukono.

Ms Anywar said the Ministry of Water and Environment is reviewing the National Wetland Policy and developing a Wetland Resource Bill to address the challenges and issues of wetland management.

The ministry has also started executing 50 community based wetlands livelihood enhancement plans and targeting installation of 50 mini-solar powered irrigation equipment and reservoirs.

It is also implementing 1120 assorted livelihood income generation enterprises to benefit households neighbouring the wetlands.

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