In 2017, a report by the Ministry of Water and Environment on disasters mapped Gulu City among the areas in Northern Uganda, which are potentially prone to floods. As a result, the former Gulu Municipal Council recommended the widening of the banks of Pece Stream and secured the funding from Fichtner, two years ago.
Last week, authorities from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Ministry of Water and Environment started evicting all farmers operating in wetlands in the districts of Kabale, Rubanda and Rukiga.
Yudaya Nakinga, the Kakumiro District Natural Resources Officer who led the operation, says that they received intelligence information indicating that several hectares of the wetlands had been encroached on for different activities.
Moses Abonga, the Laroo Division LC 3 Chairperson reveals that several parts of the wetlands have been cultivated, adding that farmers use contaminated water to irrigate vegetables, which is a threat to public health and safety.
Emmy Katera, the Buhweju Resident District Commissioner, says the top district leadership is working with the environment department and police to arrest adamant people, who have continued to deplete wetlands in disregard of several warnings.
Buhweju District Police Commander Ben Nuwamanya says that the three had encroached on a bigger part of the wetland and turned it into a grazing and farming area. The suspects are now held at Buhweju Police Station.
Ntungamo Municipality Town Clerk Christopher Ahimbisibwe told URN that the destruction of the artificial forest aims to send a signal to all those involved in the destruction of natural resources to cease adding that all land encroached on will soon be recovered.
The wetland, which borders the districts of Mbarara and Sheema, feeds into Kooga, another wetland and Rwizi River, the main source of water for thousands of people in Mbarara, Sheema and Isingiro districts.
The registration that started late November covers the districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, and Rubanda. It comes at the backdrop of complaints on the failure to control developments on the banks of River Rwizi in Mbarara and other major wetlands.
She says this has frustrated many of their efforts since they are also supposed to use police to do enforcement in places where people have failed to heed to their directives to vacate the wetlands they have illegally occupied
Over 100 people have encroached on wetlands within the town. Some of the most affected wetlands are Pece Channel, Layibi wetland, Laroo Channel and other swamps in Bar dege division. Residential houses and business premises have been built while others are carrying on agricultural and quarry activities in the wetlands.