By Chris Mugasha
Photos by Chris Mugasha
May 29, 2013

Uganda’s ministry of water and environment has moved in to save wetlands from being encroached on.

An exercise to demarcate major wetlands especially in urban areas in the Western region has started.

A wetland that has been encroached on in Western Uganda

Officials including surveyors from the ministry of water and environment started from Nyakabirizi Division in Bushenyi municipality by marking wetlands’ boundaries.

Benard Arinaitwe, a senior wetlands officer in charge of Western region says the move is intended to protect wetlands which benefit many people by acting as source of water for National Water and Sewerage Cooperation’s (NWSC) reservoirs.

Wetlands along the famous River Rwizi in Ankole region which originates from the mountains of Buhweju district are among the major wetlands to be demarcated.

Arinaitwe says some people who had encroached on these wetlands by establishing there farms and gardens of crops will be ordered to vacate them.

He says they have asked those who had encroached on wetlands especially the owners of gardens of crops to harvest them, refill the trenches and dams they had created there as a measure to allow the wetlands rejuvenate.

The ministry's move is to ban such activities of establishing gardens of crops in wetlands.

Arinaitwe condemns the rate at which people are encroaching on the wetlands forgetting that they are the major sources of water for agriculture and domestic purposes.

He says after the demarcation exercise, people will only be allowed to get grass and other materials like papyrus only from the neighboring wetlands.

The team however has met some resistance with residents demanding for compensation from government before they can allow the demarcation exercise to take place in their lands.

“We are not taking your land anywhere but we are trying to protect them since they are our major sources of water,” Arinaitwe explains.

He says after demarcating the boundaries, the next course of action will be done by government.

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