The repercussions of the recent deteriorating state of our environment is evidenced in extinction of some plant and animal species and many more.
By Richard Mugisha
KAMPALA – The New Vision recently ran a story quoting the first Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali saying Uganda loses an equivalent to 7.5% of her GDP due to the disastrous impact of climate.
Relatedly, the National Secretariat for Patriotism Corps (NSPC) also recently launched a national schools debate championship for all secondary schools in Uganda under a theme “fighting climate change through protecting environment a patriotic call for young people” and precisely the aim of these debate was to take this conversation to the owners of the future of this country.
The debate is to run throughout the country debates in all secondary schools and the climax of it will be the best debaters at the national level competitions facing off with the Members of Parliament to put their case to the legislators.
So far, the debates are still going on at regional levels and a number of region schools have participated including the big and traditional schools.
It is interesting to see young people as young as 13 years of age taking on each other on major environmental degradation issue like severe erosion, deforestation, encroachment of wetlands, poor waste disposal and low soil fertility, air pollution and water pollution.
The debate motions are various but most of them rotating on climate change, global warming, environmental degradation and protection of environment.
It is vital for the young people to understand that their existential threat is not far from them, it is not only political hazards or HIV/AIDS and other health hazards as they have been made to believe, but the daily things of their environment and the trends that would pose a threat to human extinction.
Conversations in the media and other forums are biased largely edited versions of truth that rotate around political ambitions and self-centered convictions. Which ends up generating cynical and stereotype conclusions deluding young people that such issues like environmental problems are trivial and less of their concern.
The repercussions of the recent deteriorating state of our environment evidenced in
extinction of some plant and animal species, the threat of depletion of Ozone layer caused by human activities which exposing human beings to ultra-violet rays from the sun, the destruction to our ecosystem that lead to severe rain shortages and draught, landslides and floods leading to displacement, severe famine and hunger are issue that need a general conversation.
The New Vision reported that the cost of adaptation to climate change is $400m but the cost of not acting at all is 20 times higher, but it does not mention how much it would save if we prevented.
The statistics indicate that 78% of our population is below the age of 30 years old literary meaning that if it is not by accidents this population still have at least another 50 years to lives on this planet. Therefore, if this group don’t converse about the world they will live in, who should?
It against this background that NSPC has partnered with the National Debate Council to run a nationwide schools debate championship on issues of environment with the aim to instigate a conversation on the threats posed by the degradation and what young people can do to reverse the trends.
The young generation must start discussing issues of livelihood pertinent to their long term existence regardless of who or which party will be in power in 30 years to come.
Our (NSPC) conviction is that in order to produce a responsible, resourceful, loyal and devoted citizenry that will sustain this country for many years to come, the conversation should not only look at political and economic future of this country, but our subjective physical existence both in short and long term.
The debate on the physical environment, how it is today, tomorrow and the danger the threats poses vis-à-vis the livelihood of the future generation is a conversation we should encourage our young people to engage in seriously.
The dangers of harsh climatic change, food insecurity and issues of global warming are certainly costly and can have irreversible consequences. And these are genuine fears that young people have to worry about.
At NSPC we believe that understanding ones country and your obligation to it, is the basis for social transformation and continuity.
There is no doubt that the resultant threats from environmental dangers are real and enormous. And the efforts to counter these threats are becoming too complex to be reflected in mere report from NEMA or other bodies involved.
For instance, the Government has since 2007 been fighting to enforce ban on all plastic materials of 30 microns and below but up to now the efforts have been fruitless.
Through the then Finance Minister, Dr Ezra Suruma, the Government announced during the reading of the budget that the Government had banned the importation, trade or production and use of plastic materials of 30 microns and below in 2007, but as we talk buveera is still around.
In 2015 a similar ban was announced by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) banning the use of polythene bags popularly known as kaveera.
Recently during the environmental day celebrations President Yoweri Museveni reiterated the ban on the use of kaveera in Uganda but no one seem to take this ban seriously.
Unless we own up the dangers and people patriotically choose to avert the dangers posed by these hazardous products, the pronouncement will remain as a government and political goodwill nothing much.
Apart from the dangers these plastic products pose to our soils they contain other dangerous substances such as bisphenol, which are detrimental to human health.
Bisphenol (BPA) is chemical compound soluble in organic solvents produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics including plastic cups, baby bottles, plates, jerricans, but mostly one use plastic product like packed water bottles, Kaveera etc
According to the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of Bisphenol in 93% of 2,517 urine samples from people six years and older in the United States.
Prevention is better than cure, but what is the use of prevention when you are already sick? To the future of this country there is no doubt that the future of this country lies in developing a core patriotic citizenry.
Our primary mission is to ensure that we bring up a crop of Ugandans whose love and willingness to sacrifice for this country is unmatched anywhere in the world.
The writer is the communications officer for National Secretariat for Patriotism corps.