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Kwania Gives Two Months Ultimatum to Encroachers to Leave Wetland

According to Okweny, many people have continued to encroach and illegally reclaim wetlands for settlement and farming in Abongomola Sub County and other sub counties in the district, an activity which he says possess huge threat to the environment.
Jimmy Okweny, the Kwania District Environment Officer during a mediation meeting between the wetland encroachers and the community (Photo by Solomon Okabo)

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Kwania District Local Government has given an ultimatum of 60 days to the people who have encroached wetlands to voluntarily vacate or face forceful eviction.

The ultimatum was issued on Friday by the senior Environment Officer Jimmy Okweny during the mediation meeting between the wetland encroachers and the community of Amorigoga parish in Abongomola Sub County.

According to Okweny, many people have continued to encroach and illegally reclaim wetlands for settlement and farming in Abongomola Sub County and other sub counties in the district, an activity which he says  possess huge threat to the environment.

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There has been bitter row over wetland use by the livestock keepers and the cultivators who reclaimed the wetland, planted rice, while others planted trees in the two Sub Counties of Aduku and Abongomola.

In Abongomola Sub County, Thomas Omara, a Lira based businessman and  Hendrew Omoo, the Lira district planner, both residents of Amorigoga are being accused of cultivating a large chunk of wetland, blocking the community from grazing their animals in the land.

Fred Otim,  a resident of Ayiki B Village in Amorigoga parish alleged that the duo and the local leaders there have used their financial powers to encroach on the wetland which is no man's land, an allegation the accused vehemently denied.

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Another resident Gloria Acio acknowledged that a number of people encroached the wetland due to dry spell that hit hard the area, asking the district to give them more time to harvest all their crops. 

Zumbe Adyeri Adoli, the Abongomola Sub County LC3 Chairperson says they have now embarked on mass sensitization of the people never to encroach on the wetlands.

Kwania deputy Resident District Commissioner Proscovia Acam blames the increase in cases of wrangle over wetland to biasness of the environment officers in settling disputes.

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About 539.3 hectares of the total 1,012 hectares of wetland in Kwania is already encroached on by residents according to Kwania district Natural Resource department.

Chapter 11 - clause one of the National Environment Act gives power to the National Environmental Management Authority -NEMA to issue wetland user permit, a letter that permits cultivation of wetland, however locals claim that the rich have used their economic powers to ride roughshod the communities using this law.

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