Connect with us

Uganda Launches Environment Protection Force to Combat Environment Crime


Uganda Launches Environment Protection Force to Combat Environment Crime

The newly created Environment Protection Force has been launched and given a mandate to enforce evictions of people living in wetlands and restore order in the entire environment sector.

The force, which has a total of 2,000 personnel, has been created under section 25 of the National Environment Act. The Minister has issued an instrument operationalizing it, while President Museveni, as the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces, inaugurated it through the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Robinah Nabbanja inaugurated the instrument during the World Environment Day 2024 celebrations, which took place at Mafudu Primary School in Sironko District on June 5th. The day was commemorated under the theme “Land Restoration for Climate Resilience.”

According to Akankwasah Barirega (PhD), the Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the paramilitary force will be armed and lead the enforcement of environmental laws. It will be supported by the Uganda Police Force and the military when needed.

“This force will be trained for both environmental management and paramilitary skills. The instrument establishing it gives the force the power to arrest, detain, investigate, seize items involved in offences, and support prosecution. We are now able to deal with errant members of society engaged in environmental degradation. It is a milestone, and we thank the government for operationalizing the force,” said Akankwasah.

The State Minister for Environment, Hon Beatrice Anywar, explained that those encroaching on wetlands should leave before the force catches up with them. She noted that the inauguration of the Environment Protection Force is an advantage because they have been struggling with limited forces against environment degraders.

“We could not match the rate of degradation across the country. We are going to limit issues of being taken to court. We have closed the gaps. Some people have been asking for the boundaries of wetlands, but today, we state that all wetlands belong to the government and are under our control. For Ugandans, it is no longer business as usual. We now have an enhanced force and the tools have been officially handed over,” said Hon Anywar.

She called upon the media to continue advocating for environmental restoration and to educate people on the importance of conservation. Anywar urged all Ugandans to play their roles, warning that if humans fight nature, it will fight back.

The Environment Protection Force will be led by Operational Commander Maj Joshua Karamagi of the UPDF.

She further warned that when the environment fights back, landslides will bury people, and they will cry for help. “The president has guided that people in wetlands, especially in Kigezi and Busoga, were misled by previous governments to settle in wetlands and are now facing the consequences. Floods won’t spare them, so the president has directed that we provide compensation for smooth relocation. I am looking for alternative sources of livelihood through our development partners to avoid further conflicts.”

In his speech read by the Prime Minister, President Yoweri Museveni called on all citizens to participate in the environmental conservation campaign to minimize degradation.

“Land degradation, mainly through the destruction of forests and wetlands, triggers natural disasters like landslides and mudslides, resulting in tragic loss of lives and property. The government has increased forest cover from 9.5% in 2015 to 13.3% today, with a target of 15% by 2026. We aim to increase wetland cover from 8.9% in 2019 to 9.3% today, with a goal of 15% by 2040 through wetland recovery and restoration,” said the president.

He also added that by developing Uganda’s hydroelectric and solar energy, electricity will become more reliable and affordable. “The NRM government aims to reach an electricity generation capacity of 52,481 megawatts by 2040 and an 80% green access rate. Over-dependence on biomass results in forest destruction. We aim to transition to other energy sources to save trees. The commencement of oil drilling will enable the production of affordable cooking gas for our people,” the president added.

The president also promised that his government is working to eliminate the use of plastic packaging materials, which harm livestock and block drainage channels.

Ivan Amanigaruhanga, the Executive Director of the Uganda Biodiversity Fund (UBF), which funds some of NEMA’s environmental projects, urged all Ugandans to work together to end land degradation.

He noted that the fight for land restoration and environmental protection should not be left to NEMA alone but should be a collective responsibility. Amanigaruhanga explained that NEMA faces challenges including a funding gap, which hinders enforcement efforts.

“NEMA has done good work as an environment watchdog amidst challenges. They have impounded vehicles in wetlands, demolished illegal structures, and conducted several environmental protection campaigns. However, they face challenges like low technical and financial capacity. As Ugandans, we do not always respond easily. We have very good laws, but their enforcement needs support,” said Amanigaruhanga.

He further stated that civil society organizations have tried to sensitize the public on environmental management but face funding limitations.

“Recently, the funding landscape has changed, and many CSOs have closed due to lack of funding. We need NEMA and other agencies to take serious action and access sufficient resources. The media should help demonize environmental destruction. The stories should convey that environmental degradation is unacceptable and that every Ugandan needs to take responsibility. Thinking that environmental management is solely NEMA’s role is what is harming our environment. We all have a role to play for a better environment for us and future generations.”

The day ended with an awards ceremony for schools that participated in and won debates on the environment organized by NEMA in Sironko District.

The event was also attended by other dignitaries including state Ministers; Balam Barugahara (Youth and Children) and Florence Nambozo (Karamoja Affairs). There were also MPs from different parties including FDC’s Nandal Nathan Mafabi who urged President Yoweri Museveni to step down and hand him the presidency. Also present were the King and Queen of Bugisuu the Umukuuka.

Sarah K. Biryomumaisho is a seasoned multimedia Award Winning journalist with 11 years of experience in broadcast and writing. She is recognized for her expertise in the field and holds a Diploma in Business Administration from Makerere Business Institute, which has equipped her with a strong foundation in business principles. Sarah's commitment to professional development is evident through her continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills. She has obtained a Certificate in Media Management from Women in News, an esteemed organization dedicated to empowering women in the media industry. In 2020, she successfully completed a Course in Wikimedia, demonstrating her proficiency as one of the few Wikipedia Editors in the country. To further enhance her reporting capabilities, Sarah has also acquired a certificate in Gender Justice Reporting from The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF). This specialized training has equipped her with a deeper understanding of gender-related issues and their portrayal in the media. Throughout her career, Sarah has contributed her talent to various media houses, including six radio stations, where she has showcased her versatility and adaptability. Her most recent engagements include Galaxy FM 100.2 and Radio 4. Additionally, she has served as a writer for Andariya Magazine, further demonstrating her ability to excel in different mediums. Sarah's expertise extends beyond journalism. She has worked as a Digital Communications consultant for the revitalized Uganda Airlines, leveraging her skills to effectively communicate the airline's message in the digital sphere. Her passion for digital media and technology makes her a valuable asset in the evolving landscape of communication. In her entrepreneurial pursuits, Sarah is the proud owner of TheUgPost, a renowned media organization with a strong presence in Uganda and a global reach. Through this platform, she continues to make a significant impact by providing reliable and engaging content to a wide audience. Sarah won the Top Environmental Journalist Award 2023 from Uganda Biodiversity Fund. Twitter;

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Environment


Advertisement Enter ad code here
To Top