By Patrick Jaramogi
Leaders of Kabale, Rakai, Isingiro and Ntungamo districts are spearheading efforts to stop environmental degradation in the Kagera Basin.
Vincent Semakula, the chairman of Rakai district, said the community should be sensitised about environmental issues.
â€œPeople are cultivating on river banks causing silting. We should stop this practice,â€ Semakula said after witnessing the signing of a contract where Kakuuto Community Development Project (KACODEP) received $10,000 (sh17m) from Kagera Basin Organisation (KBO) to promote agro-forestry in Rakai.
He appealed to KACODEP to use the funds to plant trees that do not affect the water ecology.
â€œMuch as we want to conserve the environment, we must plant trees that do not affect water flow. We shall not allow the planting of eucalyptus trees in water-logged areas because they drain water.â€
Semakula said the Swedish government had approved $500,000 to rekindle River Bukora.
Ignatius Byaruhanga, the chairperson of Isingiro District, said they had a lot of expectations from the Kagera Basin project. He said the district had a huge water shortage yet its plan to plant trees had stalled due to lack of seedlings.
Isingiro, with a population of 360,000, has 150 boreholes, which gives it about 35% water coverage.
Kagera Basin Project manager, Kitie Nabide, said they had secured funds under the Nile Equatorial subsidiary Action Programme to promote the environment, fight poverty and transform lives.
Kagera Basin project brings together Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda under the Nile Basin Initiative.
Silver Baguma, Kabale district vice-chairperson, said the project had come at a time when the district is faced with massive environmental abuse.
He decried the increased encroachment on Kabale district by Rwandans.
â€œThese people take advantage of our weak laws to wreck havoc in our district. They allegedly cross into Uganda, cut trees, and return to their country,â€ he said.
Dr Nicholas Azza, the Kagera Basin liaison officer, said they had started distributing computers to water offices in Kabale and Isingiro districts.
He said a $175,000 (sh360m) water project, funded by Sweden and implemented by Kabale district under the Kagera Basin Organisation, had been started in the district to benefit over 7,000 people in Katuna border town.
Kagera is the main tributary of Lake Victoria which has a drainage area of 194,000Km2.
Western districts to revamp Kagera basin