By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Bugolobi-Kampala Uganda: During earth day celebration on 22 nd , April, 2023, stakeholders raised concern over deteriorating state of environment within Kampala city that has put life of dwellers in a serious danger.
Just like others across the globe, Stakeholders that include Caritas Uganda, the Community Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI), Oxfam Uganda and others took action towards preserving and protecting Mother Earth. They called to action the government, private sector businesses, schools, the people of Uganda and the people of Kampala in particular to be accountable towards protecting mother earth.
The event that was commemorated from 17th to 25th April, 2023 was aimed at highlighting the importance of biodiversity for the planet. With Kampala’s Air Quality exceeding what World Health Organization recommends; 6.3 times, there is no doubt that human life is at a risk.
Reports indicate that Kampala is one of the most polluted cities in Africa (no.8) among the top 30 in the world with the IQ Air reporting by 2022, stood at 8 of the cities with the most polluted standing at Air Quality Index average of 39.6 with a Particulate Matter of 2.5 which 6.3 times higher than the WHO guideline of 5 µg/m 3, while 24-hour average exposures should not exceed 15 µg/m 3 more than 3 – 4 days per year.
Reports still indicate that only 32% of Uganda’s population have access to a basic water supply ie 19% and that seven million Ugandans practice open defecation and that a good number of Ugandans still access water from open water sources such as spring wells, ponds even when Kampala spring wells have been condemned because they are contaminated with E-Coli.
It was revealed that poor garbage disposal was highly evident in Uganda’s cities and worse still Kampala. It is estimated that Kampala City produces on average 2.000 tons of garbage per day with about 95% disposed off at Kitezi Landfill with organic waste and recyclables accounting for about 5%.
The private companies account for about 56 % of garbage collection and transport 44% by KCCA. Annually KCCA collects an average of 62% of garbage and over 30% remains in the communities.
These also highlighted that a good number of industries are not conforming to the standards in as far as effluent and waste water is concerned which is dangerous to the environment.
The stakeholders participating during the World Earth Day in Kampala indicated that if nothing was done to address the issue of garbage in Uganda, it would result into untold consequences like; Massive infrastructure destruction with Kampala’s drainage system full of garbage which may lead to flooding of the city, contamination of water with the garbage, sewage and faecal matter ending up in the L. Victoria that supplies the city with water for domestic and industrial use.
The presenters also argued that the situation has led to the rise in the cost of Piped water since NWSC has to invest more money in water purification; hence affecting mostly the poor, lost of revenue in tourism due to lack of beaches with clean water to allow tourist come and enjoy the weather and swim in the fresh waters, poor health, with a lot of diarrhoea and other water borne diseases among Ugandans.
With all this highlighted, stakeholders recommended as follows;
Government should invest in infrastructure in the city including roads and drainages that are wider and well covered, procure more garbage collection trucks for KCCA, prosecution of those who indiscriminately dispose off garbage any how, invest in reuse and recycling programs, taking tough policy action on single use plastics, providing Public Financing to Ministry of Water and Environment to ensure water quality tests and the cleaning of Inner Murchson Bay; among others.
ABOUT EARTH DAY:
The Earth Day is an international annual event celebrated on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection with coordinated events in over 193 countries worldwide and was first held on April 22, 1970.
It is meant to raise awareness about pollution and ways to maintain a clean habitat through proper practices. This World Earth Day 2023 was commemorated under the theme “INVEST IN OUR PLANET” where bold actions were re-echoed towards innovation and implementation.
This day also honours the mutual responsibility, to promote peace with nature and the earth as to achieve a balance between the cultural, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.