By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
WEBINAR: On 24 th April, 2023, Caritas Uganda through the Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform; a Civil Society Organization joined forces with climate reality corps, CIDI and Oxfarm Uganda to commemorate the world earth day in Kampala. One such activities to mark the event was a webinar with Topic: Celebrating Mother Earth; What we have not done right and what we can do better to protect mother Earth.
Among others the meeting sought to create awareness on the reality of climate change negative effects on mother earth in a bid to rally masses for conservation efforts as the most vulnerable populace are the urban poor and rural poor, conduct dialogue and engagement with the key stakeholders in a bid to create consistent policy regulations for environmental conservation.
During the webinar, insights on climate change were shared by selected Climate negotiators and CSO partners like Community Action in protecting Biodiversity, CIDI and Caritas Internationalis. Inspirations from Pope Francis Letter; Laudato Si were also shared.
In her opener, Ms Hellen Kasujja, the Executive Director of Community Integrated Development Initiative, (CIDI) and the National Chairperson of UFCVP stressed that the day was being commemorated in Kampala because it was strategic given the fact that the urban poor especially in Kampala were more vulnerable and repetitively were on the receiving end of the climate-related impacts like flooding, polluted water and air; all due to poor waste disposal and management. She also informed that participants that Earth Day celebrations started in Kaberamaido in 2022021, followed by Isingiro in 2022 respectively.
She encouraged farmers to take lead in waste management and manage their soils well, as she challenged participants to make commitments for this year which will be followed up in the next year’s world earth day celebrations.
Hellen asked the Ministry of Water and Environment; especially the climate change department to open her doors to more CSO partners to participate in climate change mitigation efforts.
“CSO advocacy group has brought on board all CSOs to handle aspects of financing different initiatives in the country. What remains now is collaboration and documentation of the work done by all ”. She highlighted.
While giving a keynote Address with inspiration from Pope Francis’ Letter, (Laudato Si) by Dr. Willy Kakuru emphasized the need for protection of nature and further explain the classification of eco-systems services.
In his view, actions geared towards conservation of nature like; awareness and sensitization, valuing importance of environment to life and opportunities from biodiversity, highlighting challenges related to conservation for better intervention, building synergies with like-minded partners in addition to everyone being responsible for the protection of mother Earth.
Presenting on waste and the impact on the environment, Ms. Aguti Betty, the Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda highlighted on the impact of waste on the environment that range from pollution (water, air and soil), destruction of biodiversity, increased human diseases, greenhouse gas emissions.
“Uganda is doing badly when it comes to waste management and this was proven right during the clean-up organized at port bell where alarming sights of poor waste management were displayed openly with no action being taken to deal with it at the shores of Lake Victoria”. Betty revealed.
Lack of infrastructure to manage different waste generated, Limited financial resources allocated to waste management, Inadequate waste collection and disposal services, Low levels of awareness by the public, Poor regulation compared to neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Lack of incentives and inadequate enforcement of the existing laws are some of the hindrances to solid waste management.
“There is need for the general population to adopt reduce, reuse and recycling principles and that there was need for government to increase investment in waste management infrastructure, improve on waste collection and disposal services, awareness raising about proper waste management practices, and strengthen waste management regulations.” She emphasized.
“Caritas Uganda is doing work with dioceses across the country and they annually participate in annual Caritas week meant to bring together all the different dioceses and that some of the activities that are always implemented were massive tree planting; in line with Laudato Si,” She added.
She further highlighted that as Caritas, Climate change is one of the niches they have done a lot of work in the country and that Caritas was working together with different ministries to spearhead development efforts especially in line with NDPIII.
While presenting his paper, Mr. Fred Oduri Machulu, a Climate change negotiator for Uganda and Africa said that climate change was largely as a result of human actions done by all stakeholders. He said that as a negotiator, his role was to negotiate with developed countries to take action to support developing countries to cope with the negative impacts of climate change.
He informed participants that there were a loy of resources for climate change work that were being provided by UNDP, African development bank. He also challenged the participants to plan to participate during the upcoming COP28 so that they get this information and fully disseminate it to the communities they work with.
He urged organizers to always invite ministry officials or team of negotiators to share this information and to capture farmer’s views for further discussions, saying that there was need for synergies to develop bankable proposals to access the funds from the development partners.
Mr. Oduri went on to invite caritas and CIDI to come up with proposals for consideration for funding around the work of climate change, and he promised to support the effort. He said that green climate fund from S. Korea are available among others and that capacity building funds are available at Africa Development Bank.
In the same manner, Cynthia Muhiirwa-Legal and advocacy officer-Caritas Uganda put to light the different laws and policies that support environment conservation like; theNational environment Act which gave rise to the National environment authority (NEMA), Wild life Act which gave rise to the Uganda wild life authority (UWA), the Forestry Act which gave rise to National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the National environment waste management act.
She however cited challenges like; weak enforcement, lack of coordination among the government agencies, limited public participation, inadequate for environment offenders, inadequate funding, lack of enforcement mechanisms, inconsistent policies which is still a big gap in environment management.
While Mt. Edward Natamba, a farmer expressed concern that farmers have not conserved their soils hence water run through their fields leading to soil erosion, adding that farmers need to harvest and conserve water for production. He also cited that dumping of waste was common among farmers which to him was a bad practice.
Like a concerned citizen, he suggested that tree planting, strong political will, implementable policies and laws should be made and implementation if we are to protect mother Earth, adding that was need to implement commitments made by Uganda during the COP 27 and the Paris agreement on climate change.