The role of wetland management agencies within the local community in the conservation of wetlands in Uganda

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Abstract

Wetlands in Uganda are believed to be socio-economically important for providing water for drinking, irrigation, fisheries, recreation, transport and agriculture among others. Bearing in mind the host of benefits wetlands provide to local communities, if they are harnessed without the mind, they could end up being over utilized and ultimately degraded and not continue to provide a stream of functions, attributes and services. This could be one of the primary reasons why special Departments and Institutions like the National Environment Management Authority and Wetlands Management Department were created to manage the country’s natural resources including wetlands. The study was initiated to explore how wetland management agencies influence members of the local community on matters concerning the conservation of wetlands in Uganda. A cross-sectional research design was used to collect qualitative and quantitative data. A questionnaire survey was conducted amongst four hundred households to collect information concerning the role of wetland management agencies among members of the local community for the conservation of wetlands in Uganda. More information was obtained from senior officials from the National Environment Management Authority, Wetland Management Department, and District Natural Resources Officers from the study area using a non-structured questionnaire. Key informant interviews and direct observations were also used to collect data. The study revealed that gathering materials for building and for making crafts, agricultural activities, unsustainable mining of clay and sand for building contributed to wetland degradation. Some circumstances like high population growth, unclear wetland ownership, unawareness of the indirect functions of wetlands also contributed to wetland degradation. It was found that the wetland management agencies have been ineffective towards the conservation of wetlands mainly due to inadequate funding, political interference, and lack of specific judges for wetland related court cases among others. For wetland management agencies to effectively perform their duties leading to the protection and conservation of wetlands in Uganda, the study recommends that members of the local community should be allowed to practice wetland edge farming, fish farming in ponds constructed in wetlands, and to leave some parts of these vital wetlands that have been reclaimed to regenerate, in addition to addressing the main reported hindrances that are stifling the smooth running of the activities of the agencies.

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