Lira district has renewed a community campaign aimed at reducing indiscriminate cutting of trees.
The campaign that stalled four years ago due to lack of backing environmental protection ordinance, seeks to sensitize residents on dangers of cutting trees for firewood and charcoal burning. The district has now reawakened the processes of enacting the environmental protection ordinance to back up the campaign.
Fabian Otike, the district environment officer, says once the ordinance is enacted it will empower law enforcement officers to stop activities that endanger trees. Otike says there has been a challenge in the implementation of the national laws on environmental protection as a result of negative perception of residents.
Moses Dalili, the Lira district deputy chief administration officer says the district has over time been confronted by increased environmental abuses with little or no afforestation.
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According to 2014 Uganda Population and Housing Census report, 56,352 out 89,133 households in Lira district depends on firewood while only 28,611 uses charcoal.
As a result this has created huge demand for both charcoal and firewood in the district, making both lucrative businesses.
A bag of charcoal costs 45,000 Uganda shillings, while a two-metre log of wood goes for 3,000 shillings. The most affected sub counties include Aromo, Ogur, Barr, Agali and Agweng.
Margret Akello, a charcoal and firewood seller says this is her only source of livelihood. Many of these trees and charcoal are either brought from within Lira district or from neighboring districts of Pader, Otuke, Kole and Alebtong. They are usually transported at night as dealers fear being impounded by security.
Lira district is the latest in the region to enact environmental protection ordinance after Otuke.