Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Since 2010 Manafwa district has been faced with landslides that have continuously caused massive destruction of the environment, loss of lives and property. Environmental analysts have attributed this to a number of factors like poor methods of farming, deforestation, excessive rain which make the soils weak that it develops cracks for water to easily percolate through.
Empowered with knowledge and skills on environmental rights advocacy and the rights based approach to environmental Management by Uganda Muslim Rural Development Association (UMURDA), Ms. Namutosi Noreen embarked on two tasks to address this historical environmental challenge; sensitizing the communities in Bukusu Sub County where she is attached on their rights to a clean and healthy environment and how they can engage with duty bearers to demand for this safe and clean environment. From the several community sensitization meetings conducted at parish level, Noreen successfully created community awareness on their right to a safe and clean environment and on environmental Management. This was evidenced in the Communities’ ability to approach their respective parish councillors, tasking them to push the sub county council to provide them with tree seedlings for planting. “We need to fill this bare land with green cover to reduce the risks of landslides and save our own lives and property now that we have been educated on our right to life and environmental management” asserted a community member. 
Namutosi also engaged the sub county leadership of Bukusu Sub County on environmental rights and protection. She held various discussions about the same with the sub county environment committee, Sub County Chief and Community Development Officer (CDO). This compelled the Council and sub county authorities to lobby Manafwa District Local Government to provide seedlings to the community. In response the sub county distributed 2700 tree seedlings to several institutions and community members for planting; 8 Primary schools, 1 Secondary school, 2 Mosques, and 3 Churches received 150 seedlings each and about 30 community members also received 20 seedlings each for planting.
Noreen inspecting the tree seedlings
In another development, Ms Namutosi Noreen identified community environment concerns and shared them with the Bukusu CDO and Sub County Chief and advocated for the inclusion of these concerns into the Sub County Development Plan and Budget for FY 2012/13. Concerns were integrated into the Sub County Development Plan and Budget for FY 2012/13 and implemented. All these efforts have increased the level of awareness on the fundamental citizenry rights to a clean and healthy environment and also ushered in a new era of an empowered-informed and vigilant community able to demand for their entitlements and take charge of their lives and environment.
This action by Namutosi Noreen of UMURDA has also attracted and strengthened collaboration with strategic partners to the benefit of Busuku Sub County. For example ECO-TRUST one of UMURDA’s development partners came in to train the community members on tree planting. It also distributed seedlings and pesticides for spraying on the reportedly affected seedlings. The pesticides were handed to the sub county environment committee which worked with the community and ECO TRUST to spray the affected trees planted by the district on Mukoma hill. 
Noreen, ECO TRUST&community members planting tree seedlings
With more trees planted and more people on board supporting environmental management, coupled with increased community awareness and vigilance to protect and manage the environment, the risks of very dangerous and destructive landslides are lessening by the day and hope is being restored to the formerly degraded environment and hopeless people of Manafwa District, Busuku Sub County. It should be noted that similar successful efforts have been undertaken by other human rights activists in the sub counties of Butta and Mikoto all in Manafwa District.
UMURDA is an Independent development Fund- IDF grantee implementing a Rights Based Approach project in the land slide prone districts of Bududa and Manafwa. The project aimed at building the capacity of rights holders to engage the duty bearers so as to improve service delivery in their respective areas with the hope of realizing an improvement in governance and service delivery through e involving communities in the planning process of the Local Government at all levels and a number of community issues included in the development plans and budgets respectively for implementation.