HOIMA, February 10, 2024 – The Ministry of Water and Environment in collaboration with authorities in Hoima City, Hoima district, and Kikuube district has embarked on the boundary demarcation exercise to save River Wambabya from the continued siltation, which is caused by human activities taking place along its unprotected banks.
According to environmentalists, R. Wambabya is an ecologically sensitive asset that should be protected since among other functions it hosts the nine-megawatts Kabalega hydropower plant in Buseruka Sub-county in Hoima district.
The hydropower plant is at risk of becoming non-operational due to the reduction in the volume of water carried by the river. The encroachment on the river’s banks has been worsening right away from its source in Kihomoza cell in Hoima West division, officials say.
Gilbert Ituka, an Environmental Officer in the Ministry of Water and Environment in charge of western region of Uganda said the river has been depleted by people carrying out different human activities such as car washing, cultivation, brick laying while others have constructed houses on its banks.
The installation of boundary pillars to save the river started in Kibingo cell Kibingo ward in Hoima West Division in Hoima City
Ituk noted the boundary demarcation excise, though it began last year , was delayed because of some challenges. He said they are going to profile this river from downstream to its mouth at Lake Albert.
He noted boundary demarcation is meant to warn the encroachers of the buffer zones created for the river, adding that they will later sensitise local communities, which will include giving them a short time to harvest their crops and vacate under the supervision of the enforcement teams.
He also warned the encroachers against tampering with the installed pillars, saying those caught committing the crime will face the wrath of the law.
Meanwhile local leaders have commended the ministry for the effort geared towards the protection of the river, even though they want government to provide alternative livelihoods for the encroachers so that they vacate peacefully.
Abele Isingoma, the Chairperson of Kasasa cell said the buffer zone created for R. Wambabya in his area will help it regenerate. He appealed to government to get alternative sources of livelihoods for the encroaches who have been using the river’s banks to earn a living.
For her part, Dinah Mwesigwa, Deputy Mayor for Hoima West Division said that the demarcation exercise had come at the right time, noting they are working to conserve the environment in the area.
She said that several wetlands in the area have been encroached on by people, mostly the youth washing cars, bricklayers, and farmers growing crops such as maize, beans, and yams.
The politician challenged the encroachers to take advantage of government programmes such as Parish development Model [PDM] and Emyooga to engage in livelihood activities that are environmentally friendly.
Francis Isingoma the secretary of production and Natural resources for Hoima west division commended the ministry for the initiative that will now protect the river banks from the encroachers, saying that as the Division, they are unable to push people out of the wetlands and other ecosystems due to lack of enforcement teams.
However, he noted that as leaders, they have been carrying out sensitisation of the locals on the importance of conserving the environment, further challenging people who have been carrying out activities along the river’ banks to vacate peacefully.
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