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Kabarole locals team up to save River Mpanga from pollution

By Wilson Asiimwe

Added 23rd April 2019 04:05 PM

River Mpanga is a source of water for domestic consumption and for small factories in Fort Portal municipality and Kamwenge town council.

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Part of the restored banks of the River near Mpanga market in Fort Portal municipality (Photo by Wilson Asiimwe)

River Mpanga is a source of water for domestic consumption and for small factories in Fort Portal municipality and Kamwenge town council.

POLLUTION  ENVIRONMENT 
 
Local people and leaders in Kabarole have teamed up to save River Mpanga from pollution.
 
River Mpanga flows from the Rwenzori Mountains through the districts of Kabarole, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge, before it feeds into Lake George.
 
In Kamwenge district and along the Ibanda prisons farm large sections of privately owned land around the river has been converted into farmlands and when it rains, water carries soils down into the river.
 
George Tumwine, a resident of Kabambiro said that people cultivate near the banks and they have destroyed the river.
 
“Whereas the law doesn’t allow cultivation within 100 meters, this has been disregarded by the locals who are digging up the river banks,” Tumwine said.
 
River Mpanga is a source of water for domestic consumption and for small factories in Fort Portal municipality and Kamwenge town council.
 
Water is collected and  supplied by the National Water Sewerage Cooperation (NSWC) to  residents in towns.
 
Edgar Muganzi the team leader for Natural resources Defence Initiative (NARDI) said last week that with funding from protos and the Belgian government they had launched a tree planting campaign along the river so as to protect its banks.
 
“With funding from Protos and the Belgian government we have so far planted over 15,000 along the river and we are also carrying out sensitisation and warning the locals about the dangers of destroying the river,” Muganzi said.
 
He said that in coloration with Fort Portal municipal council and the ministry of water and environment through the Albert water management zone they had also mobilized the residents to pick up all sorts of tools available to them and clean up the river by cutting all the bushes around the river on every fast Monday of the month.
 
“With the help of the municipal council we have demolished all illegal structures on River Mpanga banks at Mpanga market we need to save the river,” Muganzi said.
 
Muganzi said that they had developed a five-year working plan that involves replacing of eucalyptus trees with more appropriate trees such as Grevillia trees.
 
 
“We are replacing eucalyptus trees with indigenous trees, sensitising communities to stop encroaching on the river banks because the river is becoming thinner and losing its water colour as a result of pollution,” Muganzi added.
 
Joseph Mugume, a resident of Mugoma said that through the project they have been offered free tree seedlings to plant along the river banks.
 
“We have mobilized ourselves and we clean the river regularly we need to save it because its size has also reduced,” Mugume said.
 
Mugume said that so far over 40 hectares of river catchment where locals had planted eucalyptus trees have been cut by owners voluntarily after NARDI sensitisation meetings with the locals.
 
Stephen Asiimwe, the Resident District Commissioner for Kabarole said that all illegal activities along the river must be stopped.
 
He said that his office will coordinate with the local leaders to ensure that River Mpanga is saved from pollution and warned all the people who have encroached on the river banks to vacate or face eviction.

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