Wetland encroachment; Residents take off 

By our reporter

A group of women who had gathered to harvest their millet in Kichwamba wetland in Ishaka Division in Bushenyi/Ishaka Municipality on Friday took off on seeing police approaching them.
The police had accompanied the Bushenyi deputy Resident District Commissioner, District environment officers, the environmental police to carryout restoration on part of the Kinchwamba wetland which has been degraded by the residents.
The women who established there millet gardens took off on seeing the team that was led by the deputy resident district Commissioner Rosemary Atuheire.

“The issue of food is the one forcing us to encroach on wetlands. What do you want us to do with children?” asked one woman as she tried to run away.
Atuheire oversaw the operation that left the trenches which the encroachers had dug in the wetland to enable water run-off filled. A group of youth from Ishaka town was hired to effect the restoration as police guarded them.

Atuheire accused some rich men in the area for facilitating the degradation of the wetland. “We have been in this same area several times warning the proprietor of one of the school but whenever we leave he continues to dig trenches,” Atuheire said.
Atuheire said, “We are implementing government’s policy and the President’s recommendation concerning the protection of wetlands.”

The Bushenyi deputy Resident District Commissioner Rose Atuheire (lady) and other officials monitoring the restoration of the wetland near Ishaka Town recently.

She said it is unfortunate that even when the president has come out to advise and guide on sustainable utilization of wetlands, people don’t take it seriously and they don’t want to adhere.
“It’s our role and responsibility to continue educating our people about the benefits of wetlands/swamps,” she said. Part of the degraded Ishaka wetland feeds into Nyaruzinga-Kitagata major wetland system which feeds the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC) reservoirs.

“People are not cooperative but as office of RDC we are currently managing their attitude towards wetlands,” she explained. Atuheire expressed concern saying it is costly to restore a wetland which has been degraded.

“It requires money to hire people to fill the trenches to block water from running away,” she noted.
Deus Mukyenga the Ishaka Division chairman challenged the district and Municipal environment officers to intensify monitoring of wetlands and other natural resources in the area. “Now people are harvesting millet but where were they for people to establish gardens, plant millet up to the time of maturity?” he wondered.
Mukyenga also noted that communities are less concerned with wetlands protection stressing that, “they are not interested because they are only concerned with their food.”
He also blamed the rich people for using and facilitating the poor to carry out the degradation activities.

Atuheire warned the owners of the millet gardens not to dare to step in the fields after the harvest. “After harvesting their millet, we shall not entertain any excuse,” she warned. Ends.

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