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Minister, district leaders feud over cultivation in a wetland

Minister Anifa Kawooya is at the center of controversy.

Sembabule, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of leaders in Sembabule district are protesting a move by the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA to authorize cultivation in a wetland in their area.

The authority issued a certificate of no objection to the State Minister for Health in Charge of General Duties, Anifa Kawooya Bangirana, to utilize part of Kafumu wetland in Mitete sub county for agricultural purposes.

According to the letter issued by NEMA Executive Director Dr. Barirenga Akankwasah, Kawooya was granted permission to utilize the land measuring 105 acres, for subsistence agriculture. He says that their assessment established that the site in question was not a permanent wetland.

However, the local leaders led by Mitete sub-county chairperson Backer Ssenyonga, are opposed to the utilization of the same land, arguing that the wetland is directly adjacent to Kakinga river, the main source of water in the area.  Ssenyonga says that the utilization of the land for agriculture will translate into the destruction of the ecosystem and eventually lead to the depletion of water sources.

Ssenyonga says that any act in this direction will also frustrate the local government’s efforts to preserve other wetlands from encroachers and destruction. He says that they are going to mobilize the community to resist any attempts of converting the wetland for agriculture, arguing that it must be protected as a public good.

Mawogola County Member of Parliament, Goreth Namugga says that the benefits of preserving the ecosystem far outweigh Kawooya’s plan of using the wetland for the establishment of a community agricultural demonstration project. Namugga is asking NEMA to rescind the decision and also calling for the President’s intervention to save the wetland.

Despite this, Kawooya maintains that she is the rightful owner of the land in question, arguing that the apparent dispute is fueled by selfish politicians. In their certificate of no objection issued on October 26, NEMA guided that the land is utilized for subsistence agriculture in accordance with the planning guidelines of the local authorities.

Meanwhile, Kawooya is also accusing the local leaders of inciting the residents against her and that her properties, including a fence that had been erected around the land, which was recently vandalized by a mob that was incited by the leaders. She says that she reported the matter to the police to bring to book all the culprits.



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