As climate change intensifies in the Greater Kampala region, residents are facing the challenge of recurring flooding during rainfall and may need to shift to safer places in the long run. The observation was made by Hon. Sam Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment, in response to the recent floods around Kyambogo, which he attributed to encroachments on wetlands and increased plastics in drainage channels.
Hon. Cheptoris was presiding over the opening ceremony of the Regional Consultations of the Africa Group of Negotiators, aimed at reaching a consensus in preparation for the 3rd Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) session. The purpose of this committee is to develop a legally binding instrument to address plastic pollution.
The meeting, which commenced at the Sheraton Hotel, will bring together Africa’s decision-makers and negotiators to collaborate and deliberate on a unified and coordinated approach to prioritize Africa’s concerns in shaping the forthcoming legally binding instrument. The Minister noted the importance of focusing on issues that significantly affect the continent, such as banning the importation of plastic-wrapped items.
In his address, Hon. Cheptoris acknowledged the prevalence of plastic pollution in Kampala and its surroundings, with ongoing efforts by the government to combat it. He also highlighted the challenges faced in these efforts due to the resistance from plastic manufacturers.
“We are fighting, but the manufacturers also fight back with their might. As you go along with the meeting, the NEMA Executive Director will tell you how far we have gone with fighting the single-use plastic bags,” said the Minister.
The Minister stressed the multifaceted negative impact of plastic pollution, including harm to human livelihoods, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and threats to biodiversity on both land and water. He called for African decision-makers and negotiators to unite their voices in seeking global strategies for plastic waste reduction and minimization.
“I wish to call upon African decision-makers and negotiators here present to continue articulating the continent’s priorities in one voice and seek strategies for global plastic waste reduction and minimization in a unified and coordinated manner,” said the Minister.
The Corporate Communications Manager for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Naomi Karekaho, noted the need to include scavengers, especially women and children who collect plastics, in the national framework for environmental management. This recognition is critical in light of the country’s limited infrastructure for plastic collection and sorting.
“It is something we are aware of and we have told people to separate the plastics but even when you separate and Nabugabo collects, they put them all together and in Kitezi they are all lumped together,” said Naomi.
Akankwasah Barirega, the NEMA Executive Director, highlighted ongoing discussions with plastic manufacturers to establish extended producer responsibility.
Under this approach, producers would bear the cost of collecting and repurposing plastics, with the aim of better controlling the plastic pollution problem.
The meeting has attracted leaders from several African countries including; Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria and Egypt among others.