By Chris Mugasha

Just like COVID-19 pandemic dominated news headlines in 2020 and 2021 globally, for the last two weeks news of hostile weather have dominated our media especially on the International Televisions with excessive heat, bush fires ravaging parts of the World.

From my withering coffee farm at to the hunger stricken Karamoja and then to our brothers and sisters in the powerful nations like the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, everybody is feeling the ‘excessive hit’ differently.

My coffee plantation is drying because of the drought, our brothers and sisters in Karamoja are starving to death, while in the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Europe and France, people are running away from their homes to beaches to cool their bodies. On the other hand others are leaving their homes due to bush fires ravaging their homes/houses!

Caption: A coffee garden which has withered due to a prolonged drought. 

Many people are reportedly not to be stable psychologically because of lack of a ‘cooling weather/environment’. Schools within our neighborhood are facing it rough to maintain students in schools after their water sources dried up!

Caption: Pupils of a primary school line up to fetch water from a water source. Most schools are in water crisis because of the drought.

All these are the real effects of climate change resulting from the way we have continued to mismanage natural resources.

Unlike COVID-19 pandemic whose effects were instant, for climate change they are silent and gradual, hard to realize. But what is happening across the globe is a clear warning that soon or later a global disaster will strike when we no longer have a lot save our land.

Even when COVID-19 hit everybody including the powerful countries did not have where to run to apart from everyone locking him/herself inside the house. And now with this new wave of bush fires/excessive hit, where will one run to? Shall we all run to beaches? How about when there will be no more wetlands or water bodies?

It is unfortunate that even when such disasters occur they should be acting as a warning to all of us-stakeholders and governments that something must be done but it seems not the case. We forget easily and come to be re-awakened when disasters hit. We have taken some situations for-granted!

Many of our people think the situation is normal when it’s not! We are surrounded by desperate and unpredictable environment! Many of our local people are traditionally and religiously waiting for rains come 15th August but of recent we have seen some years where we go up to September without a drop due to climate change!! So, what if the dry season extend up to December and beyond? What will happen??

The excessive heat, drought, hunger (and later floods) ravaging the World are; a call onto our leaders to overhaul and re-align strategies, environmental laws and policies including foreign policies which target to address issues of climate change.

In other words, why should our people in a fertile region like Karamoja suffer with hunger and be in such a situation when bananas in regions like Ankole are flooding and ripening in the gardens? Why should they suffer yet they have land that is arable provided they are mobilized and supported with irrigation? Which tree planting campaign has been launched in Karamoja and it has failed?

Why should my coffee plantation at wither when the plantation is just near a wetland or when the coffee is just seated on top of underground water? All these are good sources of water for irrigation if government came in to support with the infrastructure like solar power.

Sadly, as my coffee withers (remember this is the time when it should be flowering and bees starting their process of honey making), in a distance of about one kilometer, there lies idle multi- billion World Bank fenced water reservoirs that have never been functional.

These water dams were supposed to help irrigate gardens in the neighborhood but they have remained idle for years because the responsible people mis-allocated the project! Why didn’t such World Bank funds which is even a loan to be paid back by our grand children, go direct to supporting farmers who voluntarily left wetlands? Why didn’t such funds go to compensating people who acquired land titles in our wetlands?

If we had good planners, such funds would have helped in providing many people with alternative sources of incomes so that they can reduce the pressure they put on wetlands as they look for survival.

We have seen at a number of International conferences countries (especially the developed) committing themselves to supporting the global environmental campaigns and read in the media how these countries go ahead to release the funds.

But where do these funds end to since we don’t see any or little environmental conservation activities being carried outin our villages? What is the essence of having district environmental or Natural resource officers? At the district level, the departments of Natural resources remain the least funded yet they should be among the top critical areas to be prioritized!

We rarely see these departments carryout tree planting activities because they don’t have the capacity and they are not well facilitated! They don’t have the recommended environmentally friendly tree seedlings to give out to people to plant! They cannot evict any encroacher because they don’t have funds to compensate them! They are not facilitated to move and sensitize the masses on issues of environment/effects of climate change! Where do climate funds end to?


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