Uganda- Ensure environmental sustainability

by tybmmjourno

By- Ruchi Nandu

Uganda has made important progress towards many of the MDG targets like eradicating hunger and poverty, gender equality and empowerment of women, every girl and boy receiving primary education, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and access to safe water. On the other hand, the progress has been too slow in goals like reducing child and maternal mortality, access to reproductive health, and the incidence of malaria and other diseases and environmental management and bio-diversity loss (Millennium Development Goals Report for Uganda 2010). The Government acknowledges that special efforts are needed if the MDGs are to be met not just in terms of national averages, but also in terms of real progress for all Ugandans.

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Uganda progress on environmental sustainability is quite slow. Its natural resource base is critical for social and economic development of the country. In addition, the developing country is poor and incomplete due to inadequate monitoring and reporting. But, the efforts made by National Environment Management Agency (NEMA) to gather and circulate information and data on the environment, it is possible to provide a tentative measurement.

Uganda has made development in integrating the principles of sustainable development into country’s policies and programs. The government has created many policies, laws, regulations, institutions and standards to guide the management of natural resources. For instance, the National Environment Management Policy (1994) gave birth to the National Environment Statute (1995) and, among other things, instituted National Environment Management Agency. However, the implementations of natural resource policies, laws, institutions, regulations, guidelines are low which leads to the misuse and degradation of the environment.

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The two main primary reasons of biodiversity loss, threatening to existence species, ecosystems and Eco regions throughout Uganda are poverty and rapid population. In addition, there are indications that the depletion of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity are stepping up. The rate of biodiversity loss in Uganda was calculated in 2004 to be 10-11% per decade. The share of land covered by forest declined from 25% in 1990 to 18% in 2006. Moreover, the decline of fish species in Lake Victoria is considered to be the largest documented loss of biodiversity ever caused on an ecosystem, 13 where 20 species of fish have been depleted in only the last 40 years, leaving only three species.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many mammal species, such as rhinos, cheetahs, and oryx were destroyed completed during Uganda’s decades of internal conflict. Also, bird and fish species continue to decline in number and distribution throughout the country.

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The National Development Plan priorities are provision of safe water and sanitation. In recent decades, the public investments in sub-sectors for urban and rural waters have provided significant results. The share of individuals with access to safe water has increased from 57% in 1999- 2000 to 68% in 2005 -2006. By 2014-2015, the government is on its way to meet the target of 89% access to safe water. Despite, the access to safe water is low in rural areas compared to urban areas; it is in the rural areas where the progress has been greatest. Administrative data from the Directorate of Water Development Management Information System (DWD-MIS) shows that access to improved rural water supply has trebled, from 21% in 1991 to 63% in 2007.

In the UDHS, safe sanitation is defined to include the following sanitation technologies: flush toilet, ventilated improved pit latrine, traditional pit latrine with a slab, or composting toilet. In 2005 – 2006, the Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS) found that 21% of urban residents and 9% of rural residents had access to improved sanitation. However, according to the Water and Sanitation section, the access to improved sanitation in 2007-2008 is estimated to be 74% for urban areas and 62% for rural areas. Both the estimates differ.

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According to The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) data, the share of urban population living in slums is on decline from 34% in 2005-2006 to 27% in 2008.

However, Uganda is making some real progress in other millennium development goals, it is expected to speed up and improve their goal – Ensure environmental sustainability. They are far from achieving the 2015 target of millennium development goal.