Wetland encroachers urged to embrace poverty alleviation programmes

GULU– People living in gazetted wetland areas in Gulu City have been asked to embrace government programmes aimed at fighting poverty and protecting the environment at the same time.

Recently, the National Environmental Management Authority [NEMA] launched a drive in Gulu City to move away locals and businesses established in wetlands.

Officials say about 3,000 people are living in wetlands in Gulu City, while others have set up washing bays, pork and drinking joints as well as other businesses.

Jane Frances Okilli, the Gulu Resident City Commissioner while last Friday meeting residents living in wetlands said their farming activities have destroyed water channels and patterns, leaving other areas at risk of flooding.

Some of the squatters in the wetlands are engaged in growing cabbages, tomatoes, and onions among others. They mostly do so during the dry seasons.

According to Okilli, those illegally living in wetlands can join poverty alleviation programmes such as the Parish Development Model [PDM], Emyooga among others.

However, James Otim, a resident of Holy Rosary Cell in Limu Ward, Bardege Layibi Division claimed that the efforts of the poor to join government programme have been frustrated by those in charge of the programmes

Otim said that during the recruitment of people to benefit from the PDM, many of the people who were registered are living above the poverty line.

“Planting my cabbages and tomatoes has been my major source of income to support my family. We don’t have land in the village, being an orphan, I don’t have access to our ancestral land,” Otim said.

“Even if the authorities tell us to register to join these government programmes, there are people who always block us, the poor, from joining and benefiting,” Otim alleged.


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