Minister of State for Environment decries of land tunure system as a barrier to wetland protection and conservation.
Hon. Beatrice Anywar Atim, the State of Minister for Environment has told Parliament that mailo land tenure system (Private land) continues to make it difficult to protect and conserve wetlands in the country.
While presenting a brief to Parliament on Wednesday 25th June 2020 on the Status of Wetlands in Uganda, the Minister noted that the wetland cover in Uganda had reduced tremendously. She noted the increasing distraction of wetlands in the country had caused serious consequences including prolonged droughts and drying up of water sources.
“In 1994 the wetland coverage was 15.5% of Uganda’s land cover, by 2016, wetland coverage had reduced to only 8.9%, and it is projected to be only 8.4% by 2019. The rate of loss and degradation of wetlands is accelerating in all regions of the country and not matching up with wetland restoration targets and resources,” said Anywar.
Anywar informed members that following numerous meetings and resolutions by Cabinet, a total of 300 titles had so far been cancelled by the Ministry of Lands in the wetland in Wakiso, Kampala and Mukono districts. She added that the cancellation was now expanding to cover the entire country.
“Cabinet under Minute 114 (CT 2014) approved the cancellation of land titles issued in wetlands on public land acquired unlawfully after 1995 as one of the measures to address the problem of wetland degradation. “, said Anywar.
The Minister further told Parliament that her Ministry had conducted an assessment to determine the location, composition, land use and tenure bordering wetlands which has since culminated into the development of the National and District Inventory Reports with the corresponding hot spots for restoration.
To address the concern of the legal framework, Anywar observed that the Ministry of Environment was reviewing the National Wetland Policy and developing a Wetland Resource Bill to address the challenges and issues of wetland management. She promised to table the proposed amendments on the Policy and the Bill to Cabinet by the end of April 2020.
Regarding the concern of Mailo land tenure, the Minister noted that there was a need to provide appropriate incentives to communities like providing water for agriculture through the solar-powered irrigation system and fish. She confirmed said the measures had indeed worked in Limoto wetland, Pallisa district where the communities bordering the wetlands are benefiting from the livelihood support initiatives.
“My Ministry has started implementing 50 Community-based wetlands livelihood enhancement investment plans, targeting the installation of 50 mini-solar powered irrigation equipment and reservoirs as well as the implementation of 120 livelihood income generation enterprises to benefit 50,500HHs bordering the wetlands,” Hon. Anywar.