By Matthew Okello
Residents of Magola Sub County bordering Posuna Wetland today, 21st September, 2022 mounted a spirited resistance against government officials who had gone to talk them out of the Wetland.
Government through the Ministry of Water and Environment supported by Green Climate Fund started a program aimed at restoring Wetlands so far in 26 districts in Uganda aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.
The program comes with an alternative livelihood package to support those who have been farming in the Wetlands through different projects like poultry keeping, bee farming, and livestock keeping among others.
During the launch of Wetland restoration program in Tororo district at Posuna A in Magola Sub County today, residents openly declined to buy the Wetland restoration gospel.
Nobert Ofumbi, the Gombolola Internal Security Officer (GISO) of Magola Sub County says they have been using the Wetland as the only source of livelihood and wanted government to convince them of a better life if they leave the Wetland warning that if not, they will not leave.
Peter Odongo, a resident of Malawa A said that he was seeing the anti-hills in the Wetland as the only place of settling his children due to land scarcity.
He also revealed that government should first restore the Wetland in Kibimba rice scheme and that in the industrial area in Namanve before coming to the small one like that of Posuna and Kasipodo.
Bernard Obiyero, another resident said he will not allow a stranger (government) to come and grab his land arguing that where was government when they started farming in the wetland and that now it has come with a law that does not support the well-being of the populace.
Many residents associated the program with government’s move to make them poor.
However, the residents later accepted the project after several convincing talks from the Tororo district leaders with a condition that the alternative projects kick off immediately at the individual basis.
Tororo district secretary of health and education, Noah Okumu told the affected residents that it’s better they accept what government is offering them now instead of waiting to be forcefully evicted from the Wetlands.
Joseph Ongol, the Assistant Commissioner in wetland management at the ministry of Water and environment assured residents of government’s commitment to reclaim all Wetlands in the country warning that alternative means like forceful evictions will be used on defiant residents.
He assured residents that through this, they will be able to have grazing ground for their animals to boost milk production.
Tororo District Resident Commissioner, Nixon Owole said he is aware that people are full of resistance more so when alternative concepts contradicting their traditional way of life are introduced.
Owole dismissed the myths that government is aiming at impoverishing the people reminding residents that their fore fathers have been growing rice in these wetland yet they still cry of poverty.
After launching the restoration project, Owole warned politicians against lying and inciting the general public to reject the project urging the public to distance themselves from such politicians.
John Okea, the LC5 chairperson says he will continue supporting the residents in the whole process of restoration to ensure that they do not settle for less.