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Uganda gov’t orders residents in 11 villages to vacate wetlands    

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan government on Tuesday issued a 21-day ultimatum to residents of 11 villages that have encroached on one of the biggest wetlands located in northwest of Kampala, capital of Uganda.

Lubigi wetland is one of the many wetlands facing destruction despite its critical roles of filtering, retaining and controlling floods in and around the surrounding districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mpigi.

Ugandan state minister for Environment Mary Gorreti Kitutu said hundreds of people during Christmas season and New Year 2018 invaded the wetland, filled it with lay soil and set up houses while some converted it for agriculture.

“Wetlands are there to play their roles but not to be distrusted. What the law requires of us is to issue restoration orders. So what was in the papers was a reminder for them to restore and get out of the wetlands in a period of 21 days, and if they don’t vacate, then we shall get them out of the wetland by force,” said Kitutu.

The wide wetland has for long been a soft target for encroachers who reclaim it for settlement, farming, bricklaying, washing bays and other activities.

Although it shields parts of Kampala as well as Wakiso District from flooding, in 2011 people claiming to be army veterans attempted to settle there but were stopped.

Again in 2013, a group of traders under Uganda Patriotic Voluntary Organisation (UPAVO) descended on the same wetland and started constructing stalls, claiming they had authorization from State House.

Recently officials from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) warned that should this wetland disappear, the entire Central Cattle Corridor, which includes Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke among other districts will not have water.

In 2016, Nema officials cut down gardens of several food and cash crops such as cassava, potatoes, maize, and sugarcane in a bid to protect the wetland. However, several encroachers returned to the wetland.

Section 36 of Uganda’s National Environment Act provides for protection of wetlands and prohibits any person from reclaiming, erecting or demolishing any structure that is fixed in, on, under or above any wetland.



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