Museveni directs wetland encroachers to vacate peacefully

President Museveni signs the Local Government Assesment Report during the SDG conference at Munyonyo

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged individuals occupying wetlands to vacate the areas peacefully, cautioning that encroachment on wetlands poses significant environmental risks, including desertification. He made these remarks at the 3rd Annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Conference and Dissemination of the Local Government Management of Service Delivery Report and Parish Development Model (PDM) Implementation in Munyonyo.

“I have been seeing some scuffle between the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and some people who are in the wetland. My advice to the people in the wetland is that they should all leave peacefully. I have been seeing people commenting that where was NEMA when these people were putting up these buildings? Why didn’t they stop them? But why should it be NEMA stopping these people? Don’t you have eyes to see a swamp? You don’t need NEMA, who doesn’t know what a swamp is, why do you need NEMA to stop you as if you are an idiot? But even NEMA should not take on that responsibility, because they don’t have enough manpower,” he said.

The President emphasized that the only few people in the wetlands whom he offered to help are those in Busoga, Bukedi, and Kigezi who were misled by the colonial and some independence governments to go into the swamps.

“They misled our people to go into the Kibimba swamp to grow swamp rice. If you claim that these ones have been there for a long time, how? I fought in the Luwero Triangle, I know every swamp there and when I was capturing Kampala, nobody was in the swamp. All these people have gone in the swamps knowingly and because of the collusion of the local leaders. What I want NEMA to explain to me is why they have never held the Parish Chiefs, the Gombolola Chiefs and the GISOs accountable, what are those people doing?” he wondered.

President Museveni further explained that encroaching on wetlands has adverse effects such as desertification.

“Uganda will become a desert, can we afford that? It affects the rain; 40 percent of the rain we get is from wetlands. It also affects our ability for irrigation. Our plan is to stabilise agriculture through irrigation but where shall we get water for irrigation if the people have dried the wetlands? You who are in the swamps, you are threatening us, you want Uganda to become a desert and don’t want us to have water for irrigation. Those wetlands are a source of wealth because they have resources like grass for mulching, papyrus, mudfish, among others. It also filters water,” he said.

On the other hand, President Museveni urged that the much-desired SDGs can only be achieved if societies undergo socio-economic transformation.

“If you look at my speech sometime back, I told some people that in my view, there’s no way you can get those SDGs without the socio-economic transformation,” he said.

He explained that several programs which are similar to SDGs have been in existence since the 1960s although they used to run under different words.

“But if you audit carefully, the countries which did not focus on ideology and strategy, up to now are struggling. You look at a country like China which is a communist country, even other countries like Vietnam, they have gone under socio-economic transformation because they were identifying the fundamentals and aiming at socio-economic transformation. Some of the capitalist countries have also undergone transformation like South Korea which also focused on socio-economic transformation. So even now that you have called me here, I want to again repeat to you that you cannot sustainably achieve development goals if the society does not change by undergoing socio-economic transformation. That is why the ideological principle number three of the NRM is socio-economic transformation,” the President noted.

President Museveni however revealed that the socio-economic transformation can also be achieved if adults actively get involved in the four sectors of the economy which include commercial agriculture, industry/manufacturing, services and ICT.

“In order to have the transformation, you also need infrastructure. You should emphasise this. When we were in Nairobi the other day, when the World Bank called us there with President Ruto, I told them that all these things you talk about like sustainable development but without dealing with the infrastructure, you are not serious. How will you support factories if you don’t have electricity? How will you support production without cheap transport like the railway? That is very crucial, and we are going to sort that out,” he said.

“The partners talk about social issues like education, health, housing and so on, but they don’t talk about economic transformation. That is why I told them that you must even have economic transformation to deal with the social factors like health and education and so on, sustainably.”


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