Budongo Forest in Uganda

The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has received a compelling recommendation to work closely with local communities in Nakasongola District to ensure proper co-existence with the forest reserve. The move is aimed at mapping access routes to valley dams, thus enabling pastoralist communities to access water for their animals and amicably resolve any cases of trespass.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Nathan Nabeta, emphasized the importance of established clearly designated routes for the movement of animals to the available valley dams. He underlines that this initiative would mitigate the risk of trespass for farmers, which is currently punishable by law. Hon. Nabeta made this recommendation while presenting the report on a petition regarding deprivation of fundamental rights and freedoms on natural resources and blockage of access routes to public water dams by the NFA and its agents in Nakasongola District.

During the presentation of the report on Wednesday, 07 February 2024, Hon. Nathan Nabeta laid out the committee’s recommendations to expedite the demarcation of six-meter routes along forest reserves to facilitate the movement of animals to various water points. In addition, he stressed that farmers should refrain from trespassing on private property, as it is against the law, with defaulters being held accountable.

Furthermore, Hon. Noah Mutebi from Nakasongola County highlighted the issue of fenced-off valley dams, which has limited access to water points situated in the forest reserve. Hon. Mutebi noted that while some areas have been made accessible following discussions with NFA officials, other communities are still denied access. He also mentioned the willingness of the community to offer land to the Ministry of Agriculture for the evacuation of more valley dams, expressing the community’s readiness to contribute to the resolution of the issue.

Similarly, Hon. Victorious Zawedde, the Independent Nakasongola District Woman Representative, drew attention to the fact that most valley dams established by the government are located in forest reserves. She stressed the need to create space for local communities to access clean water, especially as significant government investment has been made in these facilities.

In response, the State Minister for Water and Environment (Water), Hon. Aisha Sekindi, assured the House that the government is taking steps to address the issue by setting up bulk water initiatives that will improve water access for local communities. Notably, Hon Sekindi mentioned the upcoming water supply from Lake Kyoga, which is expected to serve Nakasongola and parts of Nakaseke District.

The commitment expressed by both government officials and community representatives to finding solutions that benefit all parties signals a positive step forward in fostering harmonious interactions between conversation efforts and the livelihoods of local residents.



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