HomeENVIRONMENTIbanda District Embarks on Boundary Demarcation of Wetlands as a Solution to...

Ibanda District Embarks on Boundary Demarcation of Wetlands as a Solution to Increased Encroachment.

By Lawrence Mucunguzi,

IBANDA.

The government has embarked on boundary demarcation of Rwambu wetland in the Ibanda district in a move to conserve the marshlands, which are disappearing due to encroachment. The wetland is located in Kijongo Sub County and acts in the transboundary Ibanda and Kitagwenda districts.

The exercise involves retracing wetland boundaries and placing mark stones as well as sensitizing the residents and local leaders surrounding the wetlands on the need to urgently restore the wetlands.

Enforcement officers of the district in a swamp restoration exercise in Ibanda municipality recently. Photo by Lawrence Mucunguzi

The exercise will be supported by a five-year project. The five-year project of USD $4.3 million of funding, will be executed by Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment, with support from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The same project is intended to improve the livelihoods of communities living within the Rwizi-Lake Mburo-Nakivale, and Enyau wetland systems, as well as the River Sironko Arua system in the Arua district.

With funding support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the objective of the project is to increase the capacity of government and local communities in Uganda to implement ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in wetland and forest ecosystems to reduce vulnerability to climate change.

Some of the concrete pillar demarcates at Ibanda district that will be used to during the exercise. Photo by Lawrence Mucunguzi

During the stakeholders meeting held at Ibanda district headquarters on Thursday, Vincent Barugahare, the assistant commissioner of wetlands in charge of enforcement in the MWO, said the threat imposed by human activities on the wetlands has forced them to demarcate its boundaries.

According to Barugahare, after getting the backing of President Museveni, the Ministry of Water and Environment is determined to restore the depleted wetlands in Uganda.

 “Our environmental patrol police unit has been empowered to enforce all laws governing the environment and we promise to leave no stone unturned,” he said.

Wetland degradation has devastated the potential for storing water and filtering pollutants. This has caused natural calamities such as floods, and pollution of water bodies.

Ibanda’s status of wetlands

Records from the Ibanda District environment department indicate that 55 percent of wetlands in the district have been degraded through human activities such as farming, house construction, and sand mining.  

According to Elly Kirya the Ibanda District Natural Resources Officer,

 “A large chunk of the wetlands in Ibanda have been converted into an agricultural area and we have given the encroachers an ultimatum to harvest their crops, cut down all eucalyptus trees and vacate,” Kirya told the meeting.

Police Officers inspecting a swamp that has been degraded to plant Cabages in Bufunda ward, Ibanda Municipality. Photo by Lawrence Mucunguzi

 The wetland systems that have been affected by human activities in the district are Kaboobo, Rwambu, Kirimirire, Mpasha, Bigyera, Mpanga, and Kitoomi wetlands.

Most of these wetlands have been either degraded as a result of eucalyptus growing, sand and gold mining, charcoal burning, and farm grazing among others according to Confidence Akankwasa the senior environment officer at Ibanda district.

“Rwambu wetland-Kyarutanga in Kijongo sub-county has also been converted into farmland. The entire papyrus vegetation cover has disappeared and the buffer zones have been invaded by man, we hope the demarcation of this wetland shall go a long way to protect it from the encroachers.

Elias Tumubweine the Ibanda district vice chairperson said the district political leadership is pledging support to the boundary demarcation exercise.

“We have already started experiencing adverse weather changes and it will be a disservice to the community if we just look on as people destroy the environment,” he said.

Interventions so far

“Together with development partners, we are focusing on restoration of water resources. We have evicted many encroachers, blocked drainage channels to retain water around, and allow vegetation to grow. We have restored the Mpasha wetland, Kirimirire wetland, and Rwambu wetland, but people have continued to encroach.  

Drake Mukiibi, the Ibanda Resident District Commissioner, said they are going to work with stakeholders to sensitize the communities to get out of the wetlands but also engage in livelihood support like farming and starting up other income-generating projects.

 “Sustained human assault on the environment is depleting key natural resources, exposing them to glaring risk of extinction in the near future. We should all work together to save our natural endowments,” he said.

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