Climate-Related Disasters: Why We Need to Protect Wetlands at all Costs

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The world has recently been witnessing catastrophes ranging from long drought spells to flash floods and storms that have left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced, and this has been highly attributed to human activity, which is fueling global warming.

Whereas Uganda has not been severely affected by climate-related disasters, the country remains at a high risk of experiencing them given the rate at which the environment is being destroyed by intensified forest destruction and wetland encroachment.

Whenever Ugandans watch news of environment-related disasters taking place in several parts of the world, all they say is, “We pray such never happens in Uganda because there’s no way our disaster preparedness system can handle this.” Indeed, some disasters can take as long as forever to recover from, but praying to God that they never happen while you destroy natural mitigation features like wetlands that he put in place is equally mocking him.

It is public information that wetlands are incredible biodiverse ecosystems that support a wide array of flora and fauna that we depend on in terms of ensuring food and fresh water, in addition to protecting our communities from floods and storms and even mitigating the impacts of climate change. This requires us, and the authorities, to do whatever it takes to guard them.

We may all seem touched by the story of an old woman whose house has been destroyed by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) while evicting people from Lubigi wetland, but we are certainly not ready for the dire consequences that come with environmental destruction.

Despite having leaders who prefer cheap popularity by abetting those who commit the grave mistake of settling in wetlands, drastic actions taken by those evicting them right now will ensure the country remains habitable for generations to come.

My only prayer is to see not only those who have settled in wetlands being evicted but also to make it unthinkable for any individual to involve themselves in any form of environmental destruction, given the fact that the repercussions are detrimental to humankind.

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