UN Environment day to be commemorated with 100,000 trees

By Gerald Tenywa

The caravan is led by Little Hands Go Green which is an environmental NGO that has been inspiring children to plant trees and also promote environmental consciousness among children.

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An environmental caravan has set off from Kampala to Gulu with an aim of promoting awareness about the sustainable use of nature and planting of more than 100,000 trees.

The caravan is led by Little Hands Go Green which is an environmental NGO that has been inspiring children to plant trees and also promote environmental consciousness among children.

According to Dr. Tom Okurut, the executive director of the top Government watchdog on the environment, the environment caravan is part of a weeklong campaign being organised to commemorate the UN World Environment Day. The Little Hands Go Hands is one of the civil society organisations that are cooperating with NEMA to cultivate a spirit of stewardship in the country, according to Okurut.

The caravan, which is expected to brave the 350-km journey made a stopover at Kawempe yesterday (Tuesday) where environmental messages were spread through a public address system together with visual aids such as leaflets and newsletters. The team on the caravan also gave out tree seedlings including fruit trees such as avocadoes to intending tree planters.   The caravan will also make a stopover at Migyera in Nakasongola among other places where they will also engage the communities in a cleanup in addition to planting of trees.

“We want people to appreciate the environment”, said Okurut adding that a study was conducted by NEMA revealed that 95% of the population was aware of the need to protect the environment but only 16% were responsive.

He was speaking yesterday (Tuesday) at NEMA House in Kampala ahead of the UN World Environment Day which is celebrated globally on June 5th  which will be Sunday and the national activities to commemorate this year’s World Environment day will be organised a day later (on June 6th) at Gulu Boma grounds.  The global theme is, “Go Wild For Life” and the national theme is, “Conserve wildlife, sustain livelihoods.”

Okurut said the focus of this day is to fight the illegal trade in wildlife and capture the attention globally and at national level to preserve species.


He said Gulu was selected to commemorate the day since it shares part of Murchison Falls National Park. The Park once housed the rhinos which were declared extinct in the 1980s. It also harbors the elephants which are under threat from poaching and habitat destruction.


He also said the Acholi people uphold the elephants as an invincible cultural symbol. This put Gulu ahead of other locations to commemorate the World environment Day.


The day is organised to raise awareness on biodiversity species, animals and plants, that are facing threat of extinction and to raise cooperative action to save to save them.

At Gulu, the local district administration has entered into partnership with the National Forestry Authority, National Water and Sewerage Corporation and NEMA to replant the catchment of Oyitano, according to Dr. Daniel Babihwa, the Director District Support Coordinator and Public Education at NEMA. He blamed the scarcity of water in Gulu before the onset of the current rain season to the dry spell and the destruction of the catchment of River Oyitano. The catchment, he said was years ago invaded my miners of stone who destroyed the vegetation before creating quarries.

Okurut said Gulu district administration has banned charcoal burning in the district as a way of saving the Sheanut trees which produce oil which fetches a premium in the western cosmetic industry. The oil is locally known as Moya and widely used as a food additive and skin ointment in parts of northern Uganda. It was smeared on the skins of the fighters of Alice Lakwena in the 1990s with the belief that it acted as bullet proof. The districts hope that the by-law they formulated will ban charcoal burning and spare the trees, according to Okurut.

In a separate interview, Bob Nuwagira, the education and communication officer at NEMA said people were destroying the environment for short term gains. He cited the sheanut as an example pointing out that charcoal brings proceeds that are far less than what oil or cosmetics would fetch for the farmers.

In addition to tree-planting, public lectures, excelling performers will be decorated with awards on June 6th. A five kilometer run is also being organised by NEMA in partnership with the Uganda Olympic Committee on the same day.

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