Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hundreds of farmers in Kasese district want the environment office and government to regulate human activities in River Sebwe, a key tributary to Mubuku Irrigation Scheme as the water volumes continue to reduce.
Mubuku was established by government as a settlement scheme in the 1960’s with the aim of providing agricultural facilities to absorb rural people to earn a descent livelihood. However, the scheme is under threat because of a continuous decline of the water levels.
As a result, the water from the scheme is rationed to ensure each farmer accesses water. This coupled with the forthcoming dry spell, threatens commercial production. Edward Tusiime, one of the farmers benefiting from Mubuku Irrigation scheme, says during the dry spell the water is very low.
He says the increase of human activities on the upper stream especially sand mining, indicates that the worst is yet to come.
Joy Biira another using the scheme, says they are greatly affected by the low water volumes as they cannot have enough water for irrigation. She says if no action is taken to limit activities that are sucking the waters, their food crops will perish.
Charles Nyamutale, the Chairperson Natural Resources Committee for River Sebwe, says the management of the scheme must plan for reforestation to protect the water catchment areas. He says there is need to protect the river banks that have been destroyed by human activities, which has also led to silting.
Asked by URN about the proposal to ban sand miners, Nyamutale said it is unfair for such action to be taken without providing the miners an alternative for survival.
He however, says efforts are being done to restore natural resources including raising awareness on sustainable land management, demonstration centers on land use and regulation on sand mining.
Augustine Kooli, the Kasese District Senior Environment Officer, says there is need for strong environment laws to stop activities that threaten River Mubuku and its catchment area. He acknowledges that River Sebwe is threatened by human activities.
He says they are set to regulate human activities around the scheme to ensure farmers get sufficient water for their production.
Stephen Ogotte, an Engineer working in the Water and Environment Ministry, said the activities affecting Mubuku Irrigation scheme equally affect the infrastructure that government intends to put up.