Nature: By 2050, Jinja’s natural ecosystems will completely be lost as humanity continuously takes its cause without creating harmony with nature.
Jinja is continuously losing its natural eco systems due to rapid population growth with its growing demand for natural resources, this is because of the population’s high dependence on natural resources for their livelihood.
The increasing demand for land acquisition to support human activities has become a big threat to nature as more land is being cleared for purposes of agriculture, industrialization, human settlement and other economic activities hence negatively impacting on the natural ecosystems across Jinja.
Half of the humanity that is living in Jinja and its suburbs is projected to rise to 2/3 by 2050, this is expected to cause even more pressure and threat on natural ecosystems as the demand from the rapid population growth.
Mr. Kasada Paul a resident in Bugembe, one of the most highly populated areas in Jinja says that population explosion and economic development at its highest peak kicked off from the year 2000 with new settlements in places of Ighenge hill slopes in all directions, to Bugembe stadium towards Budhumbuli wetland and Wanyama among other places.
“Wanyama and Budhumbuli wetlands happen to be one of the areas that experienced this explosion turning it into a slum. Bugembe just like Mafubira, Mpumudde, Namulesa, Wakitaka and Masese are places that host Jinja’s highest population working in factories, hotels, public offices and businesses with this there is need for more resources such as land to support the increasing population and economic growth,” Paul adds.
Humanity is rapidly replacing the natural setting where wetlands, riverbanks, forests (natural systems) around Jinja and are continuously being turned into residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial or urban settlements a situation that one refers too as ignorance at its peak asking themselves how shall we have balanced ecosystems yet their manifestation are becoming extinct
The senior Jinja district environmental officer says natural systems especially wetlands, river banks are being severely encroached in Jinja through illegal actions like rice growing, sugarcane growing, brick making and human settlement because of low enforcement that comes about by limited funds to facilitate the monitoring of such places.
He goes on to add that a lot of the nature is being lost in most areas around Jinja that are privately owned under private entities or individuals, this has made some of their conservation work difficult as they face a lot of resistance from land owners.
The natural systems such as wetlands, lakes, rivers, forests have lost the capacity to hold or resist occurrence of natural disasters or human induced environment disasters like pollution especially waste, flooding, longer dry periods, windstorms that are already being felt across the district. The resilience of these natural systems to withstand economic, social and environment pressure has deteriorated with incremental encroachment over the years.
Pollution from waste has also become a big threat to Jinja’s natural ecosystems. Poor waste handling especially the solid waste that is generated by the rapid population within the city and its suburb has reached its peak and needs to be handled with urgency. This ends up blocking water passages in wetlands, rivers and drainage channels with in the city therefore causing flooding in some places in Jinja since the water is blocked from flowing freely and at times contributing to poor sanitation.
Mr. Frank at the natural resources department Jinja city says, poor waste management in Jinja has turned out to be a big problem with so many negative implications on both humans and the environment.
Budhumbuli -Namulesa -Masese wetland flooded earlier this month due to blockage from solid waste that blocked the water from flowing through the wetland. The flooding affected the slum dwellers at Wanyama in Bugembe that are settled within the wetland, this raised threats of disease out break due to poor sanitation in these settlements he stretched.
Nature is continuously being threatened by illegal actions such as sugarcane and rice growing, animal rearing, brickmaking, bush burning. Kiiko wetland that runs from Magama (Kakira) to Mbulamuti in Kamuli, Budhumbuli-Masese wetland, Kirinya wetland and so many riverine forests cover are being threatened due to incremental encroachment that has resulted into biodiversity loss, drying up of river banks and wetlands, water level changes, unclean water and lowering of water table as climate change and its impacts sets in.
Deforestation of forests and trees is on its increase due to the increasing demand for timber, woods for charcoal burning, firewood, brickmaking, agriculture, settlement and economic purposes. Its just in history that a number of forests existed, statistics show that 70% of the forest cover in Jinja has been cleared due to the increasing demand from the growing population without any consultation or permission from the district forest officer or natural resources officer.
Therefore, as we craft a strategy for handling human induced environmental issues, education should be adopted as a pivot element to consider and address all concepts of human actions such as urbanization, waste management, energy, food and agriculture, industrialization, infrastructure development. It goes without debate that rising awareness about the relationship between human actions and nature as well climate change is a key aspect that needs to be discussed with urgency.
We need to harness sustainable development; the rapid population growth and economic development should be harmonized with nature.