The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Greening Mama Africa

Coen van Wyk

Posted on June 1, 2019 13:24

2 users

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, faces serious environmental problems. Resistance to change is considerable, but a youth movement promises to make Mama Africa green again.

A mild climate, fertile soil, and an abundance of agricultural resources bless Uganda, but a dangerous crisis hides behind the natural beauty. Trees are being cut down at an alarming rate, and not just by the growing Ugandan population. Refugees from the Congo, Sudan, and Rwanda, hosted by the generous Ugandan people, need wood for construction and charcoal for cooking, and this is destroying the environment. Mount Elgon on the Kenyan border used to be a source of rain, the forests on its crest feeding ever-lasting clouds. The trees are no more, and farmers for miles around are facing the desertification of their lands.

And in the fast-growing cities air and plastic pollution is becoming a serious problem. Plastic pollution in the streets, drains, water courses, and lakes are becoming a health hazard.

Image: Thomas Reuters Foundation


Ugandan youngsters are very polite, as are the environmental protesters. Polite but very insistent. Over the last year pressure has built up for the government to take action. The face of this widespread environmental movement is 14-year-old Leah Namugerwa, activist of the Friday Futures Club. Taking inspiration from Greta Thunberg in Sweden, Leah and her collaborators are making sure their voices are being heard in this land-locked country.

Leah sees her campaign against the use of plastics as key, and she points out that neighboring country Kenya has legislation to regulate the use of plastic bags. She also states that deforestation has caused wildlife to dwindle and rainfall to diminish. Fellow demonstrator Shadrach Nyerere warned that temperature changes could be disastrous for the economy, as a one-degree rise would affect the coffee crop, which is the mainstay of the agricultural sector.

Their demonstrations and press coverage have now reached the ear of their government. The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, received the Friday Futures Club recently and took note of their concerns. Kadaga promised her support and promoted the idea of a Tree Fund to support the re-afforestation drive.

Image: Parliament of the Republic of Uganda


Branches of the club, which consists of approximately 1,500 members, are being established in as many schools as possible, and the intention is to form a network through which the public can be informed and educated. A large part of the rural problem is due to ignorance on the part of peasants and local leaders. Traditionalists still say climate change was God’s plan, and nothing should be done about it. Trees, they say, are planted by God. However, education by their own children could change this attitude.

Image: Thomas Reuters Foundation


A re-afforestation project is a central dream of these youngsters. Some Nordic countries have expressed an interest in funding fruit and firewood saplings, and with the Speaker’s support, Mama Africa may begin to recover soon.   

Coen van Wyk

Posted on June 1, 2019 13:24

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

The Latest on Uganda's pop star politician (all times local): 1:40 p.m. A lawyer for Ugandan pop star and opposition activist...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest