President Yoweri Museveni has urged Ugandans who have invaded, cultivated and settled in swamps, wetlands, forestry reserves, riverbanks and lakeshores throughout the country to leave those areas peacefully and save the country from the disaster of continued environmental degradation.
He said that environmental degradation activities have resulted in rain pattern drop because of the attack by the population on those God-given natural resources.
The President made the appeal at a public rally that he addressed yesterday at Rushoroza Seed School in Kihihi Sub-County, Kanungu district in Kigezi Sub-Region during the visit to the areas that have been badly hit by famine as a result of long drought spells in the past three years that has degenerated into a humanitarian crisis.
Museveni who delivered food relief to the area, assured the population of continued government support to mitigate the famine crisis in the area but observed that Kanungu district, just like many other parts of Uganda, has experienced unprecedented drop in rainfall in the recent past because of the attack on the swamps, wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers which contribute 40% of the rainfall the country receives.
He said the drop in the rainfall has adversely affected agricultural production in most parts of the country leading to food shortage and unprecedented hunger and famine in many parts of Uganda.
Museveni, therefore, directed all people who have invaded and degraded all rain and water catchment areas to leave peacefully to avert the continued fall in rains patterns and the resultant food crisis and famine.
He warned that government will not stand aside as a spectator while people continue degrading and attacking the environment and agriculture which serve as sources of food, employment, income and livelihood for the majority of Ugandans.
“God created all these physical features for a good purpose for humanity but we are pre-occupied with destroying them and you can see the results. Please leave them peacefully,” he said.
“The National Resistance Movement does not believe in the use of force. Religious leaders and other stakeholders should join hands with government, for the good of our country and the future generations, to sensitize the population on the dangers of environmental degradation,” he added.
The President, who also delivered quick maturing and drought resistant seedlings as well as planting materials to the area that included maize, beans, millet, cassava, Irish potatoes and pumpkins, warned the population against misusing the provided planting materials, adding that their misuse goes against the government fight against hunger and famine in the country.
He advised them to also grow income-generating products to realize better earnings and getting rid of household poverty.
Mr. Museveni instructed State House Comptroller, Mrs. Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, to immediately ensure the establishment of an irrigation scheme in the area using solar operated water pumps to enable the people carry out agricultural activities all the year round without relying on natural factors.
He also said that government will construct valley dams in Kanungu district to boost water sources there.
The President used the occasion to commend religious institutions in Kanungu district for joining hands with government in mobilising and providing relief to the population that desperately needs food.
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, said his Ministry has conducted research and produced fast yielding and drought resistant crops that can mature in 2 months to 3 months with a view to ensuring the availability of food to the population in a short period.
He appealed to the local council leadership in the district and also Sub-County level to pass strong by-laws against the misuse of seedlings provided by government.
He also called for tree planting campaign in order to protect the environment and improve rain formation patterns.