Gulu Investors, Families Encroach on Wetlands

4262 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Over 100 people have encroached on wetlands within the town. Some of the most affected wetlands are Pece Channel, Layibi wetland, Laroo Channel and other swamps in Bar dege division. Residential houses and business premises have been built while others are carrying on agricultural and quarry activities in the wetlands.

Local leaders in Gulu district are worried about the massive encroachment into wetlands by investors and families in Gulu municipality. The leaders also warn that the encroachers risk having their developments demolished as they are illegal and destroying wetlands.
 
Over 100 people have encroached on wetlands within the town.Some of the most affected wetlands are Pece Channel, Layibi wetland, Laroo Channel and other swamps in Bar dege division. Residential houses and business premises have been built while others are carrying on agricultural and quarry activitites in the wetlands.
 
 Mugisha John Chris Anywar, the chairperson for environment committee in Gulu district, says very many people have already encroached into the wetland and no demarcation has been done to date to separate the wetlands and land suitable for settlement. He admits there are no mark stones to guide the people which is leading to massive encroachment in the wetlands.
 
//Cue in:  “there are still more people…..”
Cue out:  “…….areas of wetland in Gulu district”//
 
Mugisha said a group of experts from the central government visited the district to demarcate the wetlands and were supposed to put the mark stones that will help to guide people on development but to date nothing has been done. Mugisha says it is hard to convince people that it is a wetland without a mark and demarcation.
 
//Cue in:  “to our dismay even the ministry…..”
Cue out: “……seeing a building next to his place”//
 
The Deputy mayor Gulu Pauline Lukwayi says that those who have built in the wetlands risk having their developments demolished since wetlands are managed by the government. He says the environmental law will not spare those who are dwelling in the wetlands no matter how someone acquired their lands.
 
//Cue in: “you cannot build on a wetland…….”
Cue out: “…..owns the land not an individual”//
 
A report from NEMA last year indicated that Gulu district had violated environmental guidelines more than other any district. The report noted that many people have been allowed to settle in swamps, wetlands and other areas not meant for human activity. This also included water and sewerage management in the district.
                                                                                                                                                   

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.