Approaching 2 years, Ssezibwa Wetland Encroachers Decline to Vacate Despite of NEMA Orders

KAYUNGA.  Rodha Nakate attends to her yam garden in Kiziika village, Nazigo sub-county in Kayunga District.

Like any other farmer, she ensures regular weeding and thinning to
achieve high and quality yields during her harvest. However, Ms
Nakate’s two-acre yam garden is located in a protected area, a wetland
where farming activities and other unregulated human activities are

Nakate is among the 500 encroachers who have snubbed a
directive issued by National Environment Authority (NEMA) and Kayunga
district authorities now one and half year to leave the degraded wetland or
face the long arm of the law.

However, despite several warnings by NEMA the encroachers have vowed
not to leave the wetland. Some of them claim that they bought the land located in the gazetted natural resource while others say they are landless, the reason resorted to cultivating in a prohibited area.

Nakate, says started cultivating crops in Ssezibwa wetland
three years ago, claims she was forced to descend on the wetland
because she lacked enough arable land for growing marketable crops
like rice and vegetables.

“It is from this garden, where I have been growing yams, rice,
vegetables and other crops for years that I derive my livelihood and
feed my family. I plead with authorities to leave us to continue growing crops here because we have nowhere to grow them especially during this period of Covid-19.” Nakate who claims to be a widow says.

In December 2018, the police environmental protection unit evicted
these encroachers, who also committed themselves never to go back in
the wetland.

The most ruined sections of the wetland are located Nazigo, Kayunga, Kasawo, Kangulumira sub-counties. What is now seen in the most degraded sections of the wetland are open farm fields from what was a soggy area filled with wild plants
such as papyrus.

The Kayunga district senior environment officer, Patrick Musaazi,
says the long dry spells that make the wetland turn into almost a dry
land have worsened the situation as the encroachers take advantage
of this to descend on the wetland, whose soils are fertile.

Some of the encroachers come from as far as Busoga sub-region. David Sserwanja, another encroacher in Mayaga village, Kangulumira sub-county, who grows maize in the wetland claims that he bought the four-acre piece of land from one person who claimed to be the landlord.

“I bought this land in 2017 at a cost of Shs2.5m and I was later
surprised to hear that the land I bought is a gazetted wetland where
farming activities are prohibited,” Sserwanja says.

Available records show that the wetland that measures several miles
and passes through Mukono and Kayunga districts had shrubs, reeds and

According to Nicholas Magara, the NEMA coordinator wetlands for
central region, ministry of water and environment, says that with the
high degree defiance exhibited by the encroachers they have no option
but to enforce the law.

“We are currently prioritizing restoration of lake Victoria shores in
Kampala area and within a short time we shall embark on flushing out
the encroachers on all wetlands in central region,”

He advised the encroachers to leave voluntarily before they are
arrested and prosecuted.

The Nazigo sub-county LC3 chairperson, Shaban Magomo, attributes the problem to the district authorities he says shows a lot of laxity in ensuring
that the encroachers are evicted from wetland.

The Kayunga RDC Margret Kikomeko Mwanamwoiza, says she is aware of the problem and working with relevant authorities to ensure that the
encroachers are flushed out and the big headed people are arrested and

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