Kabale District Chairman Nshangabasheija advocates for compensation before wetland evictions.

By Naboth Isaac Niwagaba

Kabale District LC.5 Chairman Nelson Nshangabasheija has asked the government to consider compensating people whose livelihoods will be affected following the presidential directive to evict them from wetlands.

In October last year, President Museveni issued an executive order, directing authorities to ensure that wetland encroachers are evicted across the country. The Ministry of Water and Environment has since gazetted a number of wetlands for restoration across the country, leaving a number of wetland users in fear of a looming crisis.

In Kabale District, the authorities have embarked on the restoration of up to 350 acres of wetlands that have been encroached on for settlement, agriculture, and other human activities for decades. The wetlands listed for restoration include Ikona Wetland in Maziba Subcounty, Kyanamira-Kabanyoyi Stretch in Kyanamira Subcounty, South Kiruruma Wetland in Kamuganguzi Subcounty, Kabari Wetland in Rubaya Subcounty, and Nyombe Wetland in Kahungye Subcounty.

However, while addressing the District Council chaired by Speaker Flavia Kanagizi yesterday, Chairman Nshangabasheija said that the wetlands mentioned above were a source of livelihood for thousands of people who needed an alternative before the government evicted them. He also argued that the populace should be sensitized about the need to conserve the wetlands before evictions begin.

“Madam Speaker, we are requesting that our people be sensitized first, as well as finding compensation for them, because the wetlands have been their source of livelihood for decades,” Nshanagabasheija said.

On the other hand, Speaker Flavia Kanagizi asked the technical staff at the Kabale District Local Government to give more guidance to the District Natural Resources Committee, where she sent the matter for further discussion. Ms. Kanagizi suggested that the committee put more emphasis on interpreting the Environment Act 2019 in harmony with the presidential directive on wetlands before the district council makes its own resolution.

While speaking to our reporter in a phone interview, the Kabale District Environment Officer, Ms. Evas Asiimwe, revealed that they had compiled a list of all people about to be affected by the wetland evictions, in case the government decided to support them as they looked for alternatives. She said that the lists were compiled between July and December last year.

Meanwhile, Kabale Deputy RDC Ronald Bakak has urged residents to vacate and refrain from settling or engaging in agricultural activities in ecologically sensitive areas, explaining that protecting wetlands is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment and preventing future flooding incidents.

“Wetlands play a vital role in absorbing excess water during heavy rains, acting as natural buffers against flooding,” Bakak explained, speaking to our reporter in an interview in his office located at Kabale district headquarters in Kabale Municipality, adding that “when wetlands are encroached upon, their ability to absorb water is compromised, leading to increased flooding in surrounding areas.”

Bakak also pledged that district authorities will work closely with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of wetland conservation.