CAN AFRICAN FARMERS EFFECTIVELY MANAGE PLASTIC WASTE?

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African farmers have been challenged to embrace different efforts through climate action to effectively manage plastic waste, as the continent and the world at large continue to face climate change, environmental health challenges and other problems caused by plastic pollution.
While closing a five-day Agroforestry farmers training at Kabale National Teachers College (NTC-Kabale) in western Uganda on November 14, 2023, Dr. Joy Margaret Bitete, the leader of Uganda Land Care Network emphasized the need for collective measures and shared responsibility among all stakeholders in environmental conservation.

The training which was organized by the African Master Tree Growers attracted participants from Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC on how to mitigate the escalating plastic pollution.

Bitete also called upon the government to incorporate environmental conservation education into primary school curriculum, and empower Ugandans with the knowledge about responsible land use or agroecology, and environmental conservation from a young age.
Mr. Jimmy Musiime, the Chairperson of the Kabale Agroforestry Network and coordinator of the training urged African leaders to proactively engage in environmental conservation rather than merely providing aid to communities affected by disasters.

Musiime also encouraged farmers to enhance their land care management skills to mitigate the impact of floods and landslides.
MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM: In Uganda, plastic pollution is a growing problem. Despite repeated plastic bans since 2009, there are no signs the use of this material is decreasing. Environmental authorities and activists say over half of all plastic waste ends up in open land, waterways, lakes or parks.
In May 2023, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) confirmed that Uganda generates 600 tonnes of plastics daily, and about 40% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, while 60% is left in the environment.
HEALTH HAZARDS: Dr Esther Buregyeya, the head of Disease Control and Environmental Health department at Makerere University says plastics are causing infectious diseases.
Dr Buregyeya, who is an associate professor of public health at Makerere University, stresses that stagnant water generated by plastics also promotes waterborne diseases such as guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis and abscesses, which are painful collections of pus usually caused by a bacterial infection.
GRASSROOTS: Eunice Kiconco from Rise Against Poverty Organization-RAP Uganda called upon the government, and other stakeholders to put much emphasis on rural areas and also involve minority groups in conserving the environment.
ALSO READ – CENTRAL UGANDA: PANIC ENGULFS FARMERS AS DESTRUCTIVE CATERPILLARS ATTACK VILLAGES IN LWENGO

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