"Environmental degradation is the biggest threat of our time. It knows no colour, nor political affiliation." These were the sentiments expressed by Noeline Basemera, Woman MP Kibaale District. She was speaking during a meeting between Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on issues of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).
The meeting was organised by Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) and IRC Uganda, to inform the parliamentarians about the Watershed empowering citizens programme, discuss key issues in WASH and IWRM, and make recommendations on how the issues can be addressed effectively.
The MPs decried the rampant degradation of environment and natural resources, leading to a massive reduction in the quality and quantity of water available for domestic consumption and economic activities. Currently, 30% of the population in Uganda lacks access to safe water, while degradation of water bodies and deforestation continue unabated. In June 2018, the Water and Environment Sector Performance Report indicated that deforestation has led to the decline of forest cover from 24% in 1990 to 11% in 2015 and 9% in 2018. Regarding wetlands management, as of June 2018, 4.1% of wetlands in Uganda were reported as degraded and 2.6% completely lost.
MPs were of the conviction that much of the environmental degradation is attributable to poor governance, characterized by corruption, lack of transparency and integrity, wrongful allocation of protected water resources for development and failure to enforce rules and regulations. Apart from bad governance, MPs expressed concern about limited funding, noting that key interventions in WASH and IWRM are funded by external donors, with limited input from the government. Moreover, much of the funding is allocated to areas that do not have pressing issues or are already getting too much funding. Read more...