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Mahatma Gandhi

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.

Chris Maser

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.

Theodore Roosevelt

To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.

Kurt Vonnegut

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Government environmentally catastrophic U turn on plastic bags

We all know that polythene bag creation was an accident by Hans von Pechmann in 1898 and its proper disposal never followed thereafter.  Over a trillion plastic bags are used every year which implies that about 2 million a used each minute. Over 100 billion plastic bags are used in the USA each year, which means 300 bags per person. In the European Union over 200 plastic bags are used individually per year, meaning about 100 billion bags per year across the European Union. Plastic bags where introduced in Uganda in the 1980’s, and it has been used with love for wholesalers, retailers and consumers. At one point during a political rally one legislator said “when he is office every Ugandan will be able to return home with a plastic bag full of goodies”.

Source: East Africa Business Week
In a US research report, the plastic degrades very slowly in the seas into smaller particles called micro – plastic, young fish die from micro plastic which they cannot digest. Plastic bags in a breeding area block air and hence leading to suffocation of millions of young fish, and those which ingest the plastic are poisoned. Plastic is non – biodegradable which makes their disposal a problem, where they are disposed of they become breeding grounds for germs and pests. Plastic is light which means it can be blown from place to place by wind, leading to continuous littering of the environment.
In Uganda plastic bags are used as mobile toilets in slum areas, where they are thrown away after use.  Since plastic bags take a long time to decompose, they block penetration of water into the soil, affecting agricultural production. These plastic bags frequently clog the drainage systems leading to flooding during rainy seasons or heavy down pours. Through streams that feed Lake Victoria plastic bags are introduced into the lake, we envisage a danger of plastic blankets for those bags that don’t sink and settle down at the lake bed.

The ultimate solution would be banning the manufacture, import and use of plastic bag. Green Watch an NGO has been on the forefront of fighting the use of plastic bags in Uganda, where it filed a suit in 2002 at the High Court in Kampala stating that “the use of plastic bags which violates the rights for Ugandans to a clean and healthy environment” in the suit they sought declaration of the manufacture, distribution, use, sale, disposal of plastic bags and plastic containers, plastic food wrappers, all forms of plastic as ways of violating those rights. They added the manufacture, distribution and sale of plastic bags with less than 100 micron should be stopped. High Court in Kampala granted the order on October 5, 2012 by Judge Eldad Mwangusya but implementation has been looming. Until on Wednesday 15th April, 2015 the National Environmental Management Authority raided supermarkets and shops to confiscate polythene bags, enforcing the plastic bag ban.

On Thursday 18th June, 2015 the government through its Minister of Information and National Guidance “Cabinet suspended the ban on plastic carrier bags until the consultation process with the stakeholders as directed by the president is concluded,” with instructions of plastic manufacturers to sensitize the public on plastic waste management, put traceable codes to distinguish plastic from different industries and establish plastic collection centres.
As the political will is being worked upon which is lacking, the Ugandan government should look for and encourage other forms of packaging that are less pollutant amidst the growing population. One should envisage how polluted Uganda will be in the next 25 years. 



By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 

Consultant

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

City's Nuisance turned gold

Plastic is a nuisance after use, especially if there are no guidelines of how to dispose it off. In developed countries there are special containers and in some places you are paid to dispose of your glass and plastic. In Kampala the capital city of Uganda receives about 600 tons of disposed of plastic every day, which ends up in sewage systems and littering the city (National Environment Management Authority) adding to the uncollected garbage which ends in manholes, drainage channels, on the road side and natural water courses. Which is normally dumped during night fall in slum areas, leading to flooding in those areas and the city as most of the water channels running through the city originate from slum areas. 
Source: Waqt News
The government once threatened banning packed water if the producers didn’t ensure proper disposal of used bottles by the Minister of Water and Environment in 2009. Coca Cola is the only company that has complied by setting seven plastic waste collection centres in the whole of Uganda. Plastic does not degrade like organic garbage and hence not supporting life in the soil where dumped. Places with plastic are not fit for agricultural production. Polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic emits gases like carbon monoxide they are found in bottles, drain pipes, sewage pipes e.t.c. furans and dioxin are leading to cancer and respiratory diseases when burnt.

Source: New vision
The problem has been tackled head on by collecting the used and improperly disposed of plastic for recycling through plastic waste management for cash. In 2010 one plant was operational, now we have more than 15 plastic recycling plants in Uganda, most of them in Kampala the centre of the problem. A need for partnership is that most of the plants operate below capacity due to the limited technology like the specialized film washing line missing in most of the plants. Recycling has given employment to youths who collect the used plastic for money i.e. 250 to 1,000 UGX SHS per kg which depends on the type of plastic. Some are organized and supported into community based collectors by Living Earth Uganda a local branch of an international natural resources management nonprofit organization. 

Source: Waqt News
Plastic bottles are used as bricks for building, a practice that is being taken up in South America, Africa and Asia. There are many other uses for plastic bottles only limited to someone imagination and inventing capability. 


By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 
Consultant

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Climate Change needs Martyrs

Today (3rd June, 2015) Uganda celebrates Martyrs day, from 25th May to 3rd June executions were carried out in Buganda. These young men died for their new found faith Christianity. Such faith was shown by kayakers who were stopping the oil rig in the Seattle Elliot Bay, six activists from Germany, New Zealand, USA, Australia, Sweden and Austria went on board in April, 2015.  

Background


Africa was introduced to Christianity as early as 1878 when Pope Leo XIII asked French cardinal Charles Lavigerie the archbishop of Algiers and Carthage to go spread the gospel. Their trek into Africa they meet the largest and most powerful ethnic group in current East Africa called Baganda, with its level of advancement then we now attribute its development compared to other tribes around.  In 1860 Mutesa took the throne, he allowed his subjects to choose from Islam, protestant and catholic but Mutesa never subscribed to any religion leaving each group to assert its influence in the kings court by preaching to high ranking officials. Christianity meant that the converts would reject the traditional religions and setting aside traditional ways of life.  In 1884 Mutesa died and his son Mwanga took over the throne although he had no problem with converts during his father’s reign after he took over his attitude changed. He felt that his authority among converts and his subject was diminishing, he sought to restore that by eliminating Christianity from his kingdom by violent persecution of the missionaries and new Christians. At Namugongo, 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans were executed on orders of Mwanga, the way they were killed was so gruesome.  
Source: Internet
Pope Paul VI canonized 22 of the catholic martyrs and proclaimed them as saints in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome in 1964 and was the first pope to visit sub- Saharan Africa to lay a foundation stone for a shrine in remembrance of the martyrs who were killed in Namugongo. On June 3, every year several 1000’s of believers make holy pilgrimage to Namugongo as a way of reliving what the martyrs went through when they were made to walk to their deaths.
Source: New vision 

Climate Change

With that kind of faith climate change should be integrated into religion, where climate change topics are included in summons in churches and mosques. Where church activities include environmental protection. In the UK they created environmental Sunday, any nearest Sunday to the UN Environment Day and it has been a focus for churches for many years in the UK.  With statements issued before major Christian and Islamic holidays like that issued by Anglican bishops before Good Friday, 2015 calling for climate justice from bishops from around the communion. Organizing faith based conferences like the just concluded May 17 – 21, Nairobi, Kenya dubbed Creation Care Conference. Fasting for environmental causes have been encouraged during lent period. All of the above can create an environmental martyr, just imagine all religions together in fighting climate change. 
Source: Internet 
With a gathering like the above estimated to be about 10,000 people, environmental demonstrations can get the mileage needed to influence policy.

Bible

Genesis 1:26 and 28
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over fish of sea and the birds of air, over livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along’….. God blessed them and said to them and said to them, ‘be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Deuteronomy 20:19
When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an axe to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them?

Quran

Surah 6:165
“It is He who was appointed you viceroys in the earth……that He may try you in what He has given.”
Surah 7:31
“O children of Adam! ....eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.”
Religion is for environmental protection, as per some of those few Bible and Quran verses above. It’s the responsibility of men and women of God or Allah to preach to their followers making reference to holy books. We need to devise several strategies to curb Climate Change.



By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 
Consultant

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