“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” Ban Ki-Moon Former UN Secretary General.

Development simply put is about growth and progress. However it can be positive or negative depending on the outcomes. Forest and Wetland encroachment in Uganda, in the name of development, is one of the major causes of pollution, water shortage and this contributes to negative climate change effects.

Its valid to say there has been population growth, yet still there is a high level of ‘free land’ cravings; that are driving people into lakes, wetlands and forests without considering the long term implications. The biggest number of encroachers in Uganda include:

Nursery Plant growers: These normally come in humbly pretending to be eco-friendly, growing flowers and trees. Then before you know it – they have the water draining eucalyptus tree seedlings in large amounts. Soon the place is dry and they are building settlements.

Churches and Mosques: These also take on a false holiness and build in, what is biblically or quranically demarcated to be protected by humans. For God commands humans protect the environment. Alas the believers have taken up vast pieces of wetlands, drained them and contributed to the degradation process.

Investor Effect: Many factories have found wetlands and forest havens for their growth. The land is free and also has free water resources to exploit. The waters are drained and tree cut. Unfortunately the same factories are chaffing out fumes that pollute the environment.

Road Works: Roads are good for development, but in Uganda they have become opportunities for forests and wetlands to fade away. Allowing for settlements to emerge where the constructors have cut down trees or drained the wetlands.

Drifters: These are persons with nothing to lose, who are on the move but feel fortunate to grab a wetland especially if it is in the city (Kampala in particular). So many are located in wetlands like Lubigi, Natete, Kajansi among others. They build shacks and eventually unplanned structures. An outlooks of Ugandan towns shows they are unplanned; making Uganda one big slummed up development.

People of Influence: These have political clout or official authority at their disposal to misuse, by exploiting every resource they lay their eyes on. And wetlands as well as forests are intriguing to them. They cannot resist free possessions and so connive with their cohorts to get land titles in wetlands, forests and even lakes.

As climate change erupts on Uganda and the rain margin lowers to one season with few days and low water quantities. As floods flash infrastructure people built in the water catchment areas and as famine as well as droughts becomes a frequent part of our headlines. It is crucial to know the lead encroachers and lay a strategy of how to mitigate the situation.

About the Author

Dr. Linda Lilian

Dr. Linda Lilian is a seasoned communication specialist with experience in action research and learning, knowledge Management, Environment advocacy, health (water, sanitation, and health) mitigation, and innovation as well as gender plus leadership initiatives. With a passion for causing positive transformation. She holds a Master's Degree in Ethics and Public Management, a Diploma in Health Studies, and a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication and Political Science.

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