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Earth Hour in Uganda: Minister commits to Ban on Single-use plastic bags and beverage containers

WWF mobilized over 3000 young people to commemorate Earth Hour. The event that took place at Kisasi primary school in collaboration with the Scouts Association in Uganda saw over 3000 trees planted in 25 schools around the city.

Speaking at the event, the Minister for Kampala Hajjat Minsa Kabanda expressed admiration for the passion of the young people for the environment.

“I have been fortunate enough to sit and listen to young people today.  The passion and knowledge these young people have shared with me is truly extraordinary and will surely stay with me. The young people have spoken about the devastating impact of discarded plastic on our environment, particularly on our fresh water ecosystems and the chain reaction of widespread consequences caused by an unhealthy eco-system,” she said.

The Minister informed the rally that Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is currently exploring   a ban on single-use plastic bags and a ban on single-use plastic containers for alcohol and other beverages.

“As we commemorate Earth Hour today, I want to call upon all Ugandans living in Kampala to be part of creating a sustainable and healthy Kampala by greening their surroundings and stopping pollution, specifically plastic pollution,” she concluded.
The Scouts Commissioner, on his part noted that rapid population and economic growth in Kampala over the past 30 years has placed severe pressure on the city’s natural assets and ecosystems, such as water and wetlands, air, vegetation, and soil. 

“Am glad that KCC has begun to address these trends. However, a lot more needs to be done if these systems, on which people and productive activities both depend, are not to suffer continued and irreversible damage as Kampala expands.”

The WWF Uganda Country Director, Simon Peter Weredwong rallied Ugandans to utilize our ever-growing population into millions of actions for nature.

“If the over 40 million Ugandans switched off from daily habits and distractions of nature, and instead did 40 million actions for nature, Uganda’s ecosystems would undoubtedly recover”, he appealed.

WWF Uganda Launches the Panda Badge

WWF in Uganda in collaboration with the Uganda Scouts used this year’s Earth Hour to launch the Panda Badge.
According to Agnete Schønau, the Chief Operating Officer at WWF Uganda, the badge was launched to raise awareness among Scouts and Ugandans and inspire action on nature and the environment in recognition of the enormous challenges facing the planet and the important role of young people in creating a more sustainable world.

 “We want this panda badge to inspire more than 10 million young people in Uganda to create positive change in their communities and tackle the country’s most pressing environmental challenges such as Plastic pollution and deforestation in search for cooking energy,” she said.

The Panda Badge is part of WWF and the scouts revamped environment campaign, specifically addressing responsible consumption, helping young people to better understand the impact of their consumer habits on the environment and how to make more sustainable choices.

During the event, the Minister of Kampala was decorated with the panda badge In recognition of her significant role in the drive towards Kampala becoming a smart City.

The Scouts Commissioner, General Katumba Wamala also got decorated in recognition for his service to nature, and specifically mobilizing young people to establish over 2000 hectares of woodlots.

Seven-year-old Maya Mbabazi was also decorated in recognition for her fruit tree project dabbed Graw with Maya. The project, which has recruited over 500 young people all below the age of 10 years is driving towards planting and growing 50 million fruit trees in the next 10 years, to guarantee food but also a green environment to Maya and her peers.

Kampala Car Free Day

In yet another win for WWF in Uganda, Uganda’s Capital Kampala observed a car-free day in a bid to cut vehicle emissions and reduce air pollution.
According to WWF’s Head of Policy, Advocacy and Communication Rita Kyategeka, 3 quarters of the city, which has a population of over one million, was closed to all vehicle users and only opened for pedestrians and cyclists.
"Kampala is one of the cities in the world with the worst air quality. So we hope by having a car-free day we were cutting on the level of air pollution," Rita Said, adding that negotiations are now ongoing to ensure that there is a car free day every quarter.
“For 12 hours, Kampala was car free. By this, we protected the environment from vehicle emissions which compromise the air quality. We managed to have uncontaminated air free of chemicals that cause lung-related diseases," She said.

The Minister of Works and Transport, General Katumba Wamala commended WWF for continuously challenging authorities to do more for nature.
“When I was first approached with the proposal, I thought it was near impossible. What we have all witnessed today is that everything is possible. We must challenge ourselves to do more for the environment”, he called.
The Minister of State for Environment Hon Beatrice Anywar added that the car-free day was meant to protect the environment and ensure that road users are protected.
“We are great full to WWF for piloting this as we commemorate Earth Hour. We are definitely taking it to the next level”, she committed.
Activities that took place included walking, cycling, group street exercises, face painting, street dancing, street chalk art among others.
© Happy Ali
Minister for Kampala Hajjat Minsa Kabanda pose for the group photo with the young pupils after the launch of the Banda Badge.