Enchroachers Refuse to Vacate Kabale Wetlands

Encroachers of Wetlands in Kabale have vowed not to vacate the wetlands saying it is their only source of income.

Early in 2010, President Yoweri Museveni summoned Wetland encroachers from Kabale, Ntungamo and Bushenyi to his home in Rwakitura.

Museveni ordered the encroachers to vacate the Wetlands and promised to relocate them to other district. The Wetland encroachers have remained defiant.

Charles Bekunda, who owns a farm in a wetland along Katuna-Kabale road, says that they will not vacate the area because they have no other source of income.

He says that they are not ready to accept the government proposal to relocate them to other areas of the country.

Bekunda says that they have started planting trees to preserve the wetlands

Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, another Wetlands encroacher says that the issue of the wetland is controversial.

He says that unless handled carefully the eviction of encroachers could lead to unnecessary tension in the district.

Batuma says that several people have been forced to settle in the wetlands because of the high population growth in the district.

Paul Sabiiti, the National Environment Management Authority focal person in Kabale says almost 90 percent of the Wetlands in the district have been reclaimed by wealthy people.

Sabiiti says that they have already informed the police to evict the encroachers from the wetlands because of the massive destruction.

Civil society organizations in Kabale have also increased pressure demanding government to relocate the encroachers.

Simon Byamukama of Let us Save Uganda says that the vegetation cover in the district has been destroyed because of human activities in the Wetlands.

He says that as a result of the encroachment in Wetlands the weather partner in the district has been affected.

Byamukama says that as Civil Society Organizations they will continue pressurizing government to evict the encroachers to protect the wetlands.

Kabale has a total area of 1,827square kilometers, of which 1,695 sq km is arable land, 48.5 sq. km is water body and 79.4 sq is wetlands.