Cabinet has resolved to halt the ongoing restoration of rivers and wetlands in Kigezi sub-region pending further consultations and agreement between authorities and the residents.
David Bahati the State Minister for Planning said government realized recently that a number of factors had to be considered before evicting the locals from wetlands and river buffer zones.
“Our people unlike other areas of Uganda have been occupying these wetlands which were given to them by the government in the 1950s for their livelihood. Getting them out should be carefully done and thus a consensus has to be reached on how this is going to be done,” he said.
Bahati, who is also the chairperson for National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Kabale district, was addressing party delegates in a meeting at Arcadia hotel in Kabale.
Bahati said judging from the public reaction, government did not do enough research to see that the exercise does not affect residents badly.
As such, he said leaders in the district sat with the various stakeholders including the prime minister and decided to is halt the exercise until more is agreed on.
Recently, the Ndorwa East Member of parliament, Wilfred Niwagaba asked residents of Maziba occupying the wetlands not to leave until government compensates them.
However, Rogers Akatwijuka, the Kabale district natural resources officer blamed politicians in the region for opposing an exercise that was aimed at improving the state of the area’s climate.
“The public will either choose to follow politicians who are seeking their own interests and reap from the negative effects of climate change that we were aiming at combatting,” he said.
Akatwijuka said that due to the poor land use around Maziba River, the Maziba Hydro power dam is silted and is no longer operational
“There was a clear balance of wetlands & dry lands in Kigezi and the vegetation cover was a great reflection of this reality but if you came in the area nowadays it is a whole different story,” he said.
Akatwijuka also noted that due to the ever changing conditions, there has been a visible reduction of crested Cranes in the area.
“Crested Cranes cannot survive when wetlands which are their breeding grounds are no more. Remember these birds are our national pride but if we keep like this, we could also lose them,” he added.
The Ministry of Water and Environment in October started demarcating a number of wetlands and Rivers in the Kigezi sub-region in a bid to restore them.