Having successfully planted more than 15,000 trees in Kampala and other areas during the past year, Young Water Professionals (YWPs) has launched its 1 Million tree initiative, a commitment to plant 1,000,000 trees within a year.
Mr. Jon Fisher Sekabira is the co-ordinator cum President of the YWPs chapter in Uganda— in a cluster of young vibrant men and women with a passion for water, sanitation and the environment working towards promoting catchment protection and environmental conservation. His team works — collaboratively, with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).
Sekabira says protecting the environment is the association’s main mission.
“The YWP Association aims at enabling young water, sanitation and environment Professionals across the globe to come together, share their experiences and discuss the role of the youth in the governance and management of challenges relating to the water, sanitation and environmental sector in their country and region,” Sekabira says, explaining their motivation for the cause.
He said YWP and NWSC success story of registering 15,000 trees is as a result of their concern and commitment to make the environment a safe place for all to live.
“Community greening can change lives and goes a long way in helping in the fight against climate change, which is a global challenge,” he added.
Now, nearly four years ago, pursuant to the overarching government policy on provision of safe water and sanitation, in 2013 the NWSC formulated a Five-Year Strategic Direction (2013-2018) that focuses on infrastructure growth, increased water and sewerage services coverage, capacity development, and stake-holder management among other objectives. In 2016, the Strategic Direction was rolled over to 2016-2021 to align it with the Government strategic framework.
In fulfilling the Strategic Direction objectives, the Corporation has implemented a number of infrastructure development initiatives in water and sewerage services. The geographical coverage of NWSC operations has increased from 23 towns in 2013 to 218 towns to date.
Besides major infrastructure development initiatives, the Corporation is mindful of the need to protect and conserve the environment for sustainable provision of water and sewerage services. In this respect, the corporation is working together with the Young Water Professionals.
Fast forward to this week, the state utility through the Young water professionals launched a one million tree planting campaign under the theme; “PLANT A TREE SAVE THE FUTURE”. The objective of the tree planting campaign is to encourage NWSC staff, the youth, school going children through the NWSC School Water and Sanitation Clubs and the communities in which NWSC operates to collectively plant at least one million trees within one year as a means of promoting environmental conservation and catchment protection. Protecting the catchments provides a significant ‘natural’ barrier to contamination and yields high quality water.
Sekabira, who is also NWSC’s Corporate Marketer/ Digital Strategist, said YWP 1 Million tree-planting exercise is achievable and that they are even more determined to stand up for the environment.
He expressed hope that the new commitment to plant 1,000,000 trees would be attained, through close collaborations with government and communities that bear the brunt of the effects of global warming.
The Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament during her speech thanked the youth and NWSC for taking on the tree planting campaigns that is line the nationwide tree planting campaign launched in April 2014 by the Government of Uganda.
Kadaga explained that Uganda’s Vision 2040 targets restoration of Uganda’s forest cover from 15% to 24% by 2040 while the second National Development Plan (NDPII) targets to increase forest cover from 15% to 18% of the Uganda’s land surface by 2021. These, plus the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act (2003) can be good drivers, the challenges of encroachment, capacity of enforcement agencies and corruption notwithstanding.
The speaker then requested NWSC to take the initiative to continue monitoring the trees for sustainability purposes.
“Our youth are the leaders of the future and the foundations of sustainable development. They are the heralds of the future who will ensure a better life for the generations that will follow them, and contribute to making Uganda the best country in the world,” said Hon. Kadaga.
She also lauded the joint efforts between NWSC and the YWP over years that have raised public awareness about the need to have clean water consumption as well as the conservation of natural resources.
“Going green should be important to everyone because in truth we all appreciate the beauty that surrounds us by nature,” Kadaga said. “It is our responsibility that we don’t leave a negative impact wherever we go.”
She called on other organizations to take up tree planting as a priority to manage the current climate change challenges.
Between 2005 and 2010 Uganda had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with 2.7 percent lost per year.
For his part, NWSC head Dr.Eng Silver Mugisha noted that through the YWPs, NWSC has been able to plant more than 15,000 trees both in Kampala and other service Areas, and intends to continue with the tree planting exercise.
“At NWSC, we take pride in protecting the environment, as it is a central part of our corporate social responsibility portfolio. As such, in addition to planting trees, we are committed to supporting these initiatives,” he said.