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MY WEEKEND INSIGHTS (02/05/2020)Sabiiti Herbert  

On 21st April 2020, the president wrote a seemingly tough letter to Hon. Sam Cheptoris- the Minister of Water and Environment, directing him to evict all the people that have since settled on wetlands, shorelines, riverbanks, and gazetted Government Forest Reserves. This (to me) letter should have been rather a dismissal letter to the minister and his counterparts for failing to take action against the encroachers and year after year, the effects of this encroaching get more devastating!  President Y. K Museveni began his letter referring to God’s plan of creation thus; God created Mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, for specific a purpose. He mentioned in his letter that it is suicidal (which indeed it is) for people to encroach on the forests, steep mountain ridges, wetlands, shorelines, and river banks.  I however think that the people the fountain of honor works with, sometimes let him down. Some core policies are never implemented partly because of politics and selfish interests. Someone remind me for example what happened to the ban of kavera? Who is it that’s planting rice in Lwera swamp… Disturbing – right??  I’m always disconcerted by soil erosion and mudslides that keep happening in our highland areas like what happened in Kigezi today morning. Kigezi farmers used to have good agricultural practices, from setting up terraces to contours that ran round the tightly gripped slopes of the beautiful Kigezi hills. The soil conservation measures as enshrined in the National Agricultural Policy including national regulations and local by-laws should be enforced so that high levels of soil erosion and landslides are curbed.  Whether we have the political will to do this remains a million-dollar question playing up and about my mind today. I attribute the absence of environment conservation practices to the collapse of the old chiefs’ administrative structure at parish, sub-county, and County levels that was replaced by a more political Local Council System. You cannot expect elected LCs to use the carrot and stick approach which chiefs used to apply yet these LCs expect votes at every election round _(Someone told me some LC1 chairmen do not have latrines)_.  Do not be surprised when the budget at a Sub County is passed without a penny allocated to environmental protection. The ministry of disaster preparedness and refugees has rather become “The ministry of disaster and refugees”. The synonyms of “prepare” are “plan”, “get ready”, “put in order”. We need to be more proactive rather than primarily reactive. We shall achieve this if we all put collective efforts, putting the good of the country before selfish political gain. sabiiti10@gmail.com.

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