Ibanda, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ibanda district environment office backed by the police has destroyed crop gardens in wetlands in Karombe village, Mpasha parish, Rukiri sub county, in a bid to restore the degraded wetlands in the district.
The about 70 acres of gardens that had millet, coffee and banana plantations, sugarcane, beans, tomatoes and sweet potatoes were cleared in an operation mounted on Thursday and more than 20 households were affected by the operation.
Tom Nuwagira, the Ibanda district environment officer says that people have kept a deaf ear even after several sensitization meetings and the only solution left was to implement the law against encroachment.
He says that wetlands serve as trap areas when it rains as water is carried away with soils from high altitude.
He says destroying wetlands is destroying the home to water creatures like fish and home to the crested crane, noting that they are going to use whatever means available to protect the wetlands.
Nuwagira says Ibanda district has lost several wetlands measuring about 1,500 hectares to encroachers. These include Rwanyabihuka in Kijongo sub county, Ndoragi, Kemitozo and Ntungamo in Nyabuhikye sub county, Kabobo, Mpunda and Katembe in Rukiri sub county and Rushango in Nyamarebe sub county.
The other is Karombe wetland which connects Ibanda to Kitagwenda district and now the focus is to restore them all after several calls and sensitizations to the people.
Richard Sabiiti, one of the affected farmers says if they were notified about the operation, they would have removed their crops.
Aggrey Gumisiriza, another affected farmer says that he inherited the land from his father noting that the destruction of their gardens was a source of hunger and poverty.
Anatoli Karuhanga, the chairperson LC 1 Karombe village says that people were warned against the encroachment but refused to heed to the warnings.
He says that the rate at which people are encroaching on the wetlands will leave nothing but history.
Nuwagira, the district environment officer says that those whose gardens were destroyed should not expect any compensation, as they encroached on the wetlands.
Mary Bashongoka, Ibanda Resident District Commissioner reacted with more warnings to the people living in the wetlands across the district to vacate immediately.
“If you know you are staying in the wetland, that land is not yours, vacate immediately or else you die of landslides, hail storms and floods.”
Innocent Kyarisiima, an environmental activist with Rwizi Network says the changes in the climate pattern are caused by the people who destroy wetlands and asked that more of the same operations should continue.