Lango cultural leaders want wetlands protected

(Last Updated On: 4 September 2023)

Lira | Cultural leaders in the Lango sub-region have asked the government to clearly demarcate all the wetlands and swamps to protect them from being encroached.

The wetlands that have been encroached into are in five out of seven districts. One exists in Ayer sub-county in Kole, 10 sub-counties in Kwania, Opali sub-county in Amolatar, Ibuje sub-county in Apac and Kwera and Adekinino sub-counties in Dokolo.

Dickens Odong Wacio, the Minister of Lands, and Physical Planning under Lango Cultural Foundation, said most of the wetlands and swamps are drying up due to heavy encroachment.

“Before cattle rustling, most of the swamps were used for grazing, there were no homes, people were not cultivating but after the cattle rustling, people lost most of their cattle.

“Now people have started cultivating. All this community has been taken. People are now building in the wetlands. The population is increasing and there is pressure on land forcing others to encroach into wetlands,” he says.

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The minister notes that the drying of swamps has affected the rain pattern, saying most parts of Lango do not get adequate rain.

“We have been having rains in the past between July, August and September, but now we have no rain and there is a looming climate change-induced hunger in the region,” he adds.

Waico further says the Lango Cultural Foundation is encouraging people not to encroach on the wetlands while appealing to the government to clearly mark the wetlands.

The population has been increasing right from 1995 when they enacted the Constitution up to now the population has increased, people from other places have migrated here and people are sharing the limited land, he tells TND News.

Santa Ejack, a resident of Ibuje sub-county, Apac district, laments that their challenge is that some people have encroached on the wetlands and now they have nowhere to graze cattle and streams have dried up.

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“We now go very far to get water for drinking, our cattle have no water for drinking. We appeal to the government to come and demarcate the wetlands so that people don’t encroach them so that we don’t go very far looking for water,” Ejack says.

John Olum, also a resident of Ibuje cried foul, blaming the government for gazetting their communal land as a wetland yet they have been using it to graze their cattle.

“Government decided to gazete our customary area as a wetland, yet the area is not a wetland,” Olum explains.

The district environment officer of Apc district, Haron Okullu reveals that 18 per cent of the wetlands have been encroached, adding that every year they receive up to 20 complaints of encroachments.

“In Apac district, 44,290 hectares of land is covered by wetlands, this year we made two arrests as we have been going to enforce,” Okullu states.

In Dokolo district, the district natural resource officer Rajab Epilla says that 750 square kilometres are covered with wetlands (35%) out of the 1780 square Kilometers of the district.

“Now, so far 38 to 40 per cent of the wetlands have been degraded, and this has left a negative impact on the district, affecting the aquatic animals,” according to Epilla.

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