By Steven Enatu
The civil society organizations in Uganda have asked the responsible ministry of Water and environment to create the national climate change taskforce that comprises civil society, youth and all stakeholders as soon as possible.
This follows the national climate change bill that was passed on the 27th April 2021 before the 10th parliament came to an end and now awaits Presidential assent.
Ugandan lawmakers passed the national climate change bill that started in 2016 to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the climate crisis.
According to Beatrice Atim Anywar, the State Minister for Environment, the framework bill will provide for climate change response measures, participation in climate mechanisms, and measuring of emissions and financing for climate change actions, among others.
“The bill is timely in tackling the climate crisis. It provides for institutional arrangements for coordinating and implementing climate change response measures in Uganda,” Anywar said.
“It provides a framework strategy to guide the government in planning and budgeting for financing and monitoring of climate change programs and activities,” she added.
The bill’s objective is to give force of law in the east African country to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible
Uganda initially had no legal framework governing climate change interventions. Absence of such a framework was an obstacle in translating the identified policy priorities into implementable actions with tangible climate change benefits and now with this bill, the civil society organizations are hopeful that implementing climate change action plans will be easier.
Rachel Kyozira Kaleebi, Program Manager Resilience, Cordaid Country Office Uganda said the act is a comprehensive one.
“It’s not looking at climate change as a one component, it’s also looking at disasters, how climate change causes disaster and the ecosystem’s influence on climate” Kyozira said.
“We are talking of a law that has generalized climate change in general and we are sure that once it’s assented to and implemented, we will be better-off in mitigating the impact of climate change in communities”. She added.
Josephine Akia the Programs Manager at Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda however said that the bill will serve the purpose since it has a section that talks about the overall implementation of the act and it articulates clearly the institutionalization of the national climate change act right from the community to national level.
“This means that the offices responsible like the District Natural resource officers and Agricultural officers will be mandated to have clear implementation modalities” Akia said.
She noted that there is also a clause that gives the mandate to the ministry of water and environment at national level to constitute the national climate change taskforce with representation from different line ministries, civil society organizations, youth and women.
This Akia said needs to be expedited once the president assents to the bill to enable smooth and effective implementation.
Punishment for those who abuse the environment
In the act there is a clear section regarding enforcement on people who think they are above the law in terms of pollution, environment degradation and any other thing stated within the act. Those who are found liable doing what is contrary to the act will be charged 20,000 currency points. One currency point is equivalent to 20,000shs.
Gaps existing in the bill
The community who are at the center of the disaster were interviewed in the process of consultation and formulation of the policy however civil society argue that the bill lacks clear guidelines in terms of capacity building of the youth .
Majority of the Ugandan population being youth, many of whom directly involve in activities that may destroy the environment to make a living, need to be capacitated on how they can make a living within the environment but also conserve it.
Akia also said that the act has come with a need for a clear demand for budget lines in terms of budget allocation. We are yet to see whether it will be reflected in the National budget for ministry of water and environment that shall be read in June or July.