Environment Day: Gov’t urged to revive plastic ban enforcement

The Government of Uganda has been called upon to rekindle its efforts in combatting the production and use of plastic materials that are detrimental to the environment.

Fr. Hilary Muheezangango, the Caritas National Director (R) addressing press on Thursday ahead of the World Environment Day
  • Uganda urged to intensify efforts against plastic pollution as World Environment Day approaches
  • Concerns raised by civil society groups over government's lack of action in combating plastic pollution
  • Call for stricter enforcement of the 2019 National Environment Act to curb production of single-use plastic materials

As Uganda prepares to join the rest of the world next month to mark World Environment Day, civil society groups are concerned that the government has taken a laid-back position in fighting plastic pollution.

Caritas Uganda, a humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church yesterday painted a concerning picture of the current state of the environment as temperatures continue to hit unprecedented levels, amid pollution of water bodies and air by industrial and domestic waste.

Caritas played a key role in the passing of the National Environment Act of 2019 which provides for, among others, stringent measures aimed at curbing the production of dangerous single-use plastic materials under 30 microns.

However, Fr. Hilary Muheezangango, the Caritas National Director noted with concern that enforcement of this law, five years later, has been lacking.

This has led to a resurgence in the production and use of these bags, commonly known as "kavera,” he said.

We have been making contributions at the Ministry of Water and Environment together with other CSOs, giving our perspectives…The Parliament even invited us and we made proposals on plastics. We agreed on a phased out approach in dealing with plastics beginning with those that are 30 microns and above. Yet to date, enforcement of this has been almost non-existent.

Fr. Muheezangango was speaking to reporters at the Caritas offices in Nsambya ahead of the Environment activities.

As part of the recommendation, Caritas Uganda called for the Minister for Water and Environment to implement regulations requiring manufacturers to recycle all plastics in line with the waste management hierarchy.

Caritas also wants plastic polluters to be compelled to fund restoration activities, such as clearing clogged water trenches in urban centres and water bodies.

During the press conference, Susan Wasubire from the Climate Action Network Uganda (CANU) added her voice to the call on the ban of single-use plastics and the promotion of reusable alternatives.

This year, Environment Day celebrations will take place in Sironko district on June 5, under the theme; “Land Restoration for Climate Resilience.”

President Yoweri Museveni is expected as the Chief Guest.

Wilbert Ikilai Manager of Environmental Education and Advocacy NEMA said at the press conference that Sironko was chosen because of the fragility of that landscape in Elgon.

Ikalia commended Caritas for being a reliable partner in the work that NEMA has been doing including helping with preparations for the upcoming National Environment Dialogue slated for the 29th of May; efforts to restore the Elgon restoration through tree planting as well as engagement of school environment competition activities.

According to Mrs Betty Aguti, the Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas, the organisation is also utilising the church structures to spread the message of environmental conservation across the country.

We have structures up to diocesan levels and these are what we use to create awareness to the households on issues that affect them,” she said.

This year we have launched a one-month action event through which we shall have TV radio shows at national and regional level. We want people to listen to the messages in their own languages. We shall also have discussions engagements the Christians in their own churches,” she added.

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