Bigombe: No Wetlands, No Water, No Life

buy information pills geneva; font-size: small;”>“It is time to remember that without wetlands you cannot have water and without water we cannot have life and without life creation will cease to exist,” she said.

She said this while addressing journalists at Uganda Media Centre about how Uganda will celebrate World Wetlands Day tomorrow 2nd February 2013.

This day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. She added that this year’s theme for the World Wetlands Day 2013 is “Wetlands and Water Management” and the slogan: “Wetlands Take Care of Water”- a very timely theme because as we may all appreciate water is life and is increasingly becoming a scarce resource.

“The international theme for this year is very appropriate because it brings out the need to manage wetlands because of the critical role they play in the hydrological cycle, water supply, quantity and quality. Water remains the single denominator that will not change due to the multiplicity role it plays in nature and for people,” she said.

The Ramsar Convention is an inter-governmental treaty, which provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for conservation and wise-use of wetlands and their resources. Currently the total number of Contracting Parties to the Convention is 164 with Zimbabwe being the latest signatory. It is important to note that the Ramsar Convention is the only convention that deals singly with wetlands.

Bigombe said that it is a privilege that Uganda is a signatory to such a convention- the broad aim of which is to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve them through wise-use and management because of the invaluable benefits we get from them.

“This day provides a unique opportunity for all stakeholders who are engaged in the management of wetlands and environment in general, to reflect on the status of our wetland resources, efforts made to conserve them and lay concrete strategies for their wise use,” she added.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally to create further awareness and appreciation among the international community about the importance of wetlands and the innumerable values and benefits they provide to the environment and humankind such as water purification, recharge and discharge in space and time.

Since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens at all levels of the community have undertaken actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

Bigombe said that it is therefore a time to remember that without wetlands you cannot have water and without water we cannot have life and without life creation will cease to exist.

She added that it has been proven that most of our water sources are fed by wetlands, whose unique function of water storage and retention ensures its availability throughout the year ensuring that populations living adjacent to them can continue to have water for livestock, domestic use, and irrigation and for drinking.

“Furthermore, because of their absorption capacity wetlands not only avert flooding but also ensure that the water in them moves slowly to replenish different sources making them the “granaries” for many communities,” she said.

She stressed on the importance of wetlands and why they should be preserved, “Wetlands aid rain formation through evapo-transpiration where water vapor is released into the atmosphere leading to cloud formation and subsequently rainfall. Wetlands therefore contribute towards balancing of the hydrological cycle by maintaining both surface and underground water supply and quality.”

Bigombe added that wetlands are indispensable resources for water treatment, storage and distribution in time and space so without them we cannot be assured of quality water.

According to the United Nations, by 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.

Bigombe mentioned a number of challenges Uganda faces in wetland management as inventorying of wetland, management planning, institutional development and enforcement of the wetland policy and related legislation. There is also continued issuance of leases and titles in wetlands, in contravention of the National Constitution, Environment laws and Section 44 of the Land Act 1998, disregard of the environmental laws with impunity at all levels, including “silent and open resistance. There are several incidences where culprits involved in wetland degradation have been set free by the courts of law or the police, or given non punitive punishments commensurate with the damage caused to the environment. There is continued abuse of wetlands, non-compliance by investors, unclear and complex ownership issues in general, and in particular the leases which were granted in wetlands; prior to the Wetlands Policy (1995), Constitution (1995), Land Act (1998) and the National Environment Act (1995), Cap 153. This conflict is evidenced in the reclamation of wetlands throughout the country.

She said inorder top overcome the above problems, the ministry has to do a number of things like as wetland boundary demarcation and gazettement, increased awareness of wetland values, benefits and functions and strengthening enforcement with the support of the Environment Protection Force

She acknowledged the effort of Ministry of water and environment, local governments, civil society organizations, private sector and development partners in wetland management.


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