By Abalo Irene Otto.
For the last ten years Gulu district has witnessed a growth in development. Storied buildings have cropped up within the town and thus the search for available land within strategic areas. Slowly development has encroached on the wetlands hence it’s destruction but Gulu Municipal mayor George Labeja says the building are not in the wetlands.
“These buildings also have certificates from NEMA which means they are not building in the wetland.”
Labeja said that there are signs demarcating wetlands put by NEMA, the Environment body in Uganda that guides people building near wetlands.
The mayor made the statement during a press conference at Northern Uganda Media Club in Gulu, in response to a public outcry on the recent increase of activities on the wetland known as the green belt in Gulu Town.
He said the community should not think that the activity taking place on the wetland is destroying it but rather, they are working on having a drainage channel that makes the water easily flow.
“Gulu is developing so fast and we have wetlands within the town Center without a proper drainage channel. Many people will think that we are destroying the swamp. We are only making it a wetland or a drainage channel that looks well in the town center.”
Labeja said the Pece channel will be turned into a green area with trees and grass planted and that that the recreation facility will act as a resting point with a demonstration fish pond within the town.
He however acknowledges that there is a policy gap in managing wetlands in the country.
Uganda has a Wetlands Management Department (WMD) with the mandate to manage wetland resources and its goal is to sustain the biophysical and socio-economic values of the wetlands in Uganda for present and future generations.
According to the wetland mapping exercise of 2008, wetland resources were noted to have reduced from 15% in 1994 to 10.9% of Uganda’s area.