conservation of wetlands and forests.

Wetlands and Forests are important resources for regulating climatic conditions, erosion prevention, moderation of extreme flows, sediment traps, soil formation, and maintenance of water tables in surrounding lands, and acting as centers of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. They are also sources of wood, timber and other construction materials, food, medicines, water supply, fisheries, dry-season grazing for livestock, nutrient and toxin, tourism, recreational and spiritual functions, and promote aesthetic beauty of the area. Surprisingly, these resources (wetland and forests) are on the decline in many parts of Uganda. Data shows that the national area of wetlands declined by 30% between 1994 and 2008. And although between 2008 and 2014, there was an increase in area under wetlands, this was only a meager 0.03% increase from 26,307km2 in 2008 to 26,315 km2 in 2014[1]. In the same way, it is reported that from 1990 to around 2010, Uganda’s forest cover reduced by approximately 1.3 million hectares[2]. This represents an average annual deforestation rate of 1.8%, which implies that in less than 20 years, Uganda lost about 25% of its forest cover. These trends are worrying and are increasingly being attributed to weak enforcement of existing laws, impunity among certain classes of the general public making enforcement difficult, poor coordination amongst key government institutions, corruption,  political interference and influence peddling[3],[4]. If not well managed, construction of EACOP pipeline through Lwengo, Sembabule, Kyotera and Rakai is likely to worsen the situation. Addressing these challenges requires the concerted effort of all key stakeholders including central government, local governments, CSOs and CBOs, cultural and religious leaders, media fraternity, local communities, and the judiciary among others.

Through our project on protection of wetlands and forests along East African crude pipeline (EACOP) route, our main objective was, to have communities aware and appreciate the role of wetlands and forests in their communities and how they can protect them amidst development of oil and gas projects in their communities.

[1] Republic of Uganda, 2016: Uganda Wetlands Atlas. Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Kampala

[2] The Republic of Uganda, 2013: The National Forest Plan 2012-2021/2022. Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Kampala

[3] Republic of Uganda, 2016: Uganda Wetlands Atlas. Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Kampala

CICOA lead a campaign on save Lwera swamp in Kalungu district, Lukaya town council. We started an online petition and more than 4000 people signed it. CICOA was able to engage local government environment officers to explain how this swamp destruction was allowed and what they are doing to stop it. We also tasked ministry of water and environment to explain why Chinese investors were allowed to reclaim this important swamp and provide to us terms of issuance of permit. This advocacy was well documented on Televisions like NBS and NTV which are leading Televisions in Uganda, we also used print media like new papers to push further our advocacy, and also Facebook and Twitter were and are still being used for this agenda. The major achievement is that, the president while visiting the neighboring district, noted that he has heard this Lwera swamp destruction to Chinese investors and ordered that the relevant ministries should stop this irresponsible management of environment and that these investors should not expand beyond this and after the season they should vacate the area.

Below links provide more details on this project