“Many factors have delayed enforcement of plastics ban in Uganda, but I have confidence that joining the global Clean Seas Campaign will go a long way in developing conviction among Ugandans and other global citizens to adopt more sustainable alternatives,” Okurut says.
Uganda has today joined the Clean Seas Campaign,
demonstrating the country’s commitment to curbing the flow of marine litter and
plastic waste entering lakes, rivers, and the ocean.
The Clean Seas Campaign was launched by the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP) in 2017 and has so far had 63 countries across the globe who
are asked to commit to efforts aimed at ending marine plastic pollution from
source to sea.
“We welcome Uganda the second landlocked country, and the
first in Africa as it joins the Clean Seas Campaign. This is not just about
seas but about all our water bodies and how they deliver vital services that
support our very well-being. As part of the partnership, UNEP is also pleased
to support Uganda on a national action plan to tackle litter and plastic
pollution,” said Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UNEP’s Director and Regional
Representative for Africa.
Uganda is part of the Great Lakes region with its largest
freshwater ecosystem, Lake Victoria. The water body, shared with Kenya and
Tanzania, is the source of the River Nile that flows 6,695 kilometres before
ending in the Mediterranean Sea.
However, Lake Victoria and its related ecosystems are
threatened by the catastrophic effects of the biodiversity breakdown, the
climate emergency and rampant pollution from decades of unsustainable
production, irresponsible consumption and insufficient waste disposal.
For Uganda, this pollution takes the form of waste, such as
plastics and fishing gear, and nutrients from agricultural run-off, degrading
ecosystems services and threatening the health and livelihoods of its
About 1 in 5 of the fish in Lake Victoria had ingested
plastic, shows a recent study conducted by researchers in Tanzania.
Biao says when it comes to plastic pollution, it is critical
to focus on the importance of all water bodies that suffer from the negative
impacts of both plastic, and other types of pollution.
Commenting about Uganda becoming the first country in Africa
to join the campaign, Dr. Tom Okurut, Executive Director of Uganda’s National
Environment Management Authority (NEMA), emphasized the cost of continued use
of plastics on both aquatic life and human health. “Plastics clog drainage systems which attracts billions of
shillings to unclog annually, sums that would have otherwise been invested in
other critical social services.”
Spurred by the need to address dangers like carcinogenic
exposure from ingesting micro plastics, Uganda has been inspired to tackle
plastics through the law and seeking national and international partnerships,
“Many factors have delayed enforcement of plastics ban in
Uganda, but I have confidence that joining the global Clean Seas Campaign will
go a long way in developing conviction among Ugandans and other global citizens
to adopt more sustainable alternatives,” added Okurut.
As part of the clean seas campaign, earlier in March,
Flipflopi, the world’s first sailing boat made from 100% recycled plastic made
a stop over in Uganda as it sailed around Lake Victoria. It also stopped in Kenya
and Tanzania. The expedition drew attention to the plight of the lake and the
need by the East African Community to end the unnecessary single use plastic
scourge that is threatening the region.