CLIMATE CHANGE

Youth urged to fight climate change and take lead in tree planting for green city statuses   

(Last Updated On: 19 June 2023)

Gulu, June 19, 2023: Youth in Acholi sub-region and northern Uganda, in general, have been urged to be advocates of environmental protection by involving themselves in massive trees planning to fight climate change.

Environmental experts say youth are the pillars of the country.

Akong Jackline is the youth director at Action and Community Transformation, a community-based organization in Gulu City. She said human activities in the City are causing environmental distraction which is diverting Gulu city from being green. “This needs a massive effort from all the youth to combat the behaviours of people to understand the importance of making the environment green.”

Akong says youths are the face of change in making greening growth a reality, further urging them to embrace Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) on Sustainable Development Goals to see that all cities have green growth statuses.

GGGI, she says has come at the right time where our people need to be sensitized fully to keep the greening status.

“Ignorance and knowledge gaps are still a challenge which is fueling the destruction of our environment including the wetlands for survival. Looking at the Pece stream channel, the level of waste disposal is putting the life of the local community at risk,” says Akong.

She states that the Pece Stream is now used for farming and has become a source of food to feed the population in Gulu City.

Richard Onencan is the executive director of Youth Advocacy Alliance Uganda. He says the level of waste disposal and wetland destruction in Gulu City has become rampant.

“Youth should fight such acts of mentality as they are the pillars of the country and involving them in the massive adaptation of physical development plan in promoting greening city status.

Onencan wants many NGOs to come on board to “consume the production of plastic waste in Gulu city”, saying it has overwhelmed the Taka-takas (a company dealing in waste in the city). “This is another alternative to consume all the plastics waste in the city to make it gain greening city status.”

“Youth can massively be involved in planting and replanting of trees in the city. The authorities should put a supplementary budget for nursery beds for tree seedlings and have their forests reserved within the city in a bid of changing climate patterns; this needs the involvement of many youth to participate.

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According to Onencan, Gulu City has to form a technical planning committee that will engage youth to develop a physical development plan.

The former Aruu county MP, Samuel Odonga Otto is now the director of Ribe Pi Paco (RPP) Youth Environmental Advocacy Group based in northern Uganda. He says the RPP advocacy group is working tirelessly to stop massive tree-cutting for the charcoal business.

They are doing sensitization, and advocacy in the local community and aiming to plant and replant more trees in the region.

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Otto says the vision of RPP in the community is to restore “our traditional indigenous trees” which have been cut. “RPP would further go to replant and plant 20 hectares of trees in each school, churches and hospital premises,” says former MP.

Odonga identifies hotspots in Acholi sub-region where trees are cut mercilessly. These are Paibona, Owalo, Owoo, Palaro; Lakang, Layim, Apaa, Atyika and Okidi.

Others are Arana sub-county, Lapolu, Awere, Aswa ranch, Adilang and Parabongo, among other areas.

RPP’s preliminary finding shows that over 40 per cent of trees and forest, covers have been cut by charcoal dealers in Acholi.

Environment officer of Gulu city, Michael Ochan Christopher, in his report of 2023 shows that over 3,000 people are living in the wetland in Gulu city. Over 9 land titles were acquired by those using wetlands and 5 per cent of people have established permanent structures in wetlands, including washing bays, pork joints and bars.

Agnes Oyella, the senior physical planner of Gulu city tells TND News that they have designed plans to develop and beautify recreational centres, including Kaunda grounds. She says they will involve communities to adopt the greening program.

She says the greed and mindset of some landowners are not allowing for the extension of roads. This, Oyella says is affecting the beatification plans.

“As Gulu city we are trying to introduce and promote green growth structures (buildings) to achieve green city status while engaging the locals on the mindset change,” she says.

Dr Ronald McGill is the project lead for European Union Greening Urbanization and Industrialization scheme. He says the project is for 3 years with investments of $5,532,179 by the European Union countries.

McGill notes that the project aims at promoting sustainable development and inclusive green growth in Uganda by focusing on green city development, green industrialization, efficient waste management and green growth integration.

However, the project which has already been approved to function by Gulu, Arua and Lira cities is still pending approval by the National Physical Planning Board and the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development.

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