Opinions & Commentary

Government Needs to balance Development and Forest Conservation –Sebei Farmers

Drought And Famine Deemed A Threat To Sebei Farmers

By: Kiplangat Willy

Kapwata forest is one of the major planted forests along the slopes of Mount Elgon; it lies in the two districts of Kween and Bukwo covering a total of 2,350 land acreage. Due to the process of administrative decentralization, it has three districts bordering the protected land nearly 13% of all the land along the park.

The farmers in the region previously in the last three years have registered loses considerably due to much rainfall, poor road infrastructure, lack of advanced mechanical farming methods and improved storage facilities. All this have been on the farmers face, late last year, farmers cast their hopes on the sitting elected Sebei Elgon cooperative chairperson soyekwo Emmanuel who promised transparency and accountability for steady growth.

As the world faces global climate change, Sebei sub-region is not exceptional, and one wonders as to why the factors that can combat the global change to going green through tree planting is being ironically flattened. Sebei Elgon Cooperative Union being the giant and has more land for farm production is at risk of development since it’s an agricultural cooperative institution that feeds many farmers.

On this day, the government is working on the project of irrigation along the lower zones of Kween district while on the upper zones, there is deforestation. Therefore, one may wonder the kind of confusion going on here.

This year the government waived taxes towards the construction of Kapchorwa suam road in collaboration with world bank, east African development bank and work has already kick-started, one of the fears is that the road will be very destructive as far as lowering down green vegetation that has been center of survival for both humans and animals. There are many water catchment areas in the region, sufficient rain but though it has been not as much regular in some months.

Chelangat Joseph one of the farmer has put this activity in question, he says that “where on earth is this government going, how can you rescue farmers with irrigation and yet you are destroying areas of water sources, we know that this timber is being taken to Kenya because there is hot market there, even the machinery being used is from Kenya, so we need to be informed as a community, what is the fate of this?”.

Forests are our most important terrestrial storehouses of carbon and play and important role in Controlling our climate. Yet, in many parts of the world forests are degraded and destroyed to expand agricultural lands, gain timber or clear space for infrastructure or mining activities.

Tropical deforestation has severe consequences for loss of biodiversity, flooding, soil degradation and threats to the livelihoods and cultural integrity of forest-dependent Communities. It is also a major contributor to global climate change. At a worldwide scale, global change pressures (climate change, land-use practices and changes in atmospheric Chemistry) are increasingly affecting the supply of goods and services from forests.

Forest and biodiversity conservation are intrinsically linked to climate change mitigation and Adaptation: Together with the forests, we loose our biggest terrestrial carbon storage and a system regulating and influencing the freshwater household and rainfall patterns. It is, therefore, Necessary that the government includes a comprehensive carbon accounting mechanism that provides the necessary incentive framework for conserving not only temperate and boreal but – and in particular – tropical rainforests.

Satya Arupasi, one of the farmers in the region says that, “all what the government is doing right now or anybody involved is what we don’t know, but I guess that its wrong because it’s evident that global weather change has affected even us here, for the last three years, the rainfall has not been reliable and the crop yields have worsened”.

Farmers now seek for government’s intervention on the present situation where the region has faced lately little rains and lower crop harvest, too much dust on the roads and lack of sensitization as they cast hopes on mitigation of the predicaments on the farmers face.

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