President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said Uganda is committed to ensuring sustainable use of the environment and the natural resources saying these are at the core of sustainable development and critical for social economic development and transformation, healthy ecosystems and human survival.
Officiating at the closure of the 3-day Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change in Munyonyo, Kampala on Friday Museveni rallied delegates to protect wetlands and plant more trees in their respective countries as a measure to cushion against environmental catastrophes.
He added that wetlands, forests and open water bodies in Uganda contribute 40 per cent of the rain the country receives, while 60 per cent of the rain comes from oceans. He said parts of West Nile in Uganda are getting more rains partly due the wetlands in South Sudan and the forests in Congo.
The three-day Regional Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration, Environment and Climate Change sought to raise awareness about the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on human mobility.
This comes after more than 20 people, including a UPDF soldier, have been confirmed dead and several others are missing after floods cut off Mbale City after several rivers burst their banks.
The flooding followed the heavy rains that filled the major rivers in Mbale City to capacity and broke their banks, filling up the roads which caused accidents as three vehicles plunged into river Nabuyonga where some of the victims are said to have died.
The floods have also affected schools like Oxford High School, Bugisu High School, former premises of Livingstone International University and Riverside High School and Hamadiya Muslim hospital have also not been spared.
The President again advised farmers to stop growing rice in swamps since the economic activity causes a negative impact on the environment.
“Swamps are tributaries of the river Nile. So, when you grow rice in the swamps, you’re committing a very big crime. And this is us, not the Europeans. This must stop!” Museveni warned.
The conference held under the theme: “Enhancing Cooperation in Relation to Cimate Change Induced Human Mobility, Including Migration, Displacement and Planned Relocation” was also addressed by the Executive Secretary of IGAD, H.E. Eng. Mahboub Maalim, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Mr Ovais Sarmad and the Egyptian Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Ashraf Mohamed Nabhan, among others.
The conference also saw Heads of Ministerial Delegations signing and adopting the Kampala Declaration on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, an important step to dealing with and responding to the impact of climate on migration, displacement and human mobility.
It attracted high-level representatives from countries including Burundi, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. Others were Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The East and Horn of Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate variability and climate change. The region regularly faces a wide range of natural hazards and slow-onset events and
processes leading to different forms of human mobility (displacement, migration, returns and planned relocation).