Encroachers Reclaim 200 Acres of Land in Bukomansimbi Wetlands

2726 Views Bukomansimbi District, Uganda

In short
Michael Kawoya, the Bukomansimbi District Environment Officer says their efforts to reclaim these wetlands have been hampered by National Environment Management Authority.

Encroachers have reclaimed about 200 hundred acres of wetlands in Bukomansimbi district. The fresh encroachment comes after National Environment Management Authority stopped evictions from wetlands.
The most affected are Kyojja, Nabajjuzi, River Katonga, Bigasa and Kibinge wetlands. Nabajuzi and Katonga wetlands are Ramsar sites as they are home to endangered bird species.
Last year, the environmental police evicted more than 3000 encroachers from wetlands in Bukomansimbi district but the exercise was stopped by NEMA. However, less than six months, encroachers have returned to the same wetlands. They have opened up gardens and planted maize, yams, sweet potatoes and cabbage amongst other crops.
Some of the encroachers like Edward Lutwaama and Ddumba Muwawu have also planted coffee inside the wetland. Michael Kawoya, the Bukomansimbi District Environment Officer says their efforts to reclaim the wetlands have been hampered by National Environment Management Authority, which stopped all evictions.
Kawoya says Nema has specifically blocked them from evicting Edward Lutwaama from Kasebweera wetland and Ddumba Muwawu who have reclaimed over 80 acres land saying they were authorized to use wetlands. 

He also says their efforts to evict over 200 other encroachers from wetlands around the district have suffered a setback because they have documents allowing them to stay and utilize the wetlands.

Our reporter talked to some of the encroachers who say NEMA has no right to evict them. Joseph Mulyamwenvu, a resident of Kisojo in Bukomansimbi district is one of the encroachers who have refused to vacate the wetland.
According to Mulyamwenvu, he secured a land title for his land found in Kisojjo wetland. Mulyamenvu says NEMA has no authority to stop him from utilizing his land.

Muhammad Kateregga, the Bukomansimbi LC 5 Chairperson says there are many other encroachers who reason like Mulwamenvu.

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Reverend Fr. Peter Ssenkayi, an environment activist blames the dry spell in the district on the destruction of wetlands and vegetation.
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Noami Karekaho, the Spokesperson National Environment Management Authority - NEMA say she is aware of the encroachment and promised to look at the specific files before she can comment.

Tonny Mutagibya, a tour guide at Nature Uganda Masaka center the encroachment is not only a threat to wildlife alone but community-based ecotourism as well.
He says unless something is done, many tourists may shy away from Masaka because unique bird species like the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Grey Crowned Crane are no more.



About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.