When I was doing post-graduate studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, at the beginning of the 1980s, in The Biology of Conservation, I never imagined I would be alive today to witness the world celebrating The World Environment Day on 5th June 2024.

The post-graduate programme focused on Environmental Management and Conservation and the ecological techniques thereof. It was a very useful programme in preparing the future managers and conservators of the environment.

I was happy to be part of the four students who joined the programme in 1980. It shaped my attitude and outlook towards the environment forever. Students at Makerere University who passed through my hands from 1991 to 2009 gained a lot from what I gained from the University of Nairobi. Some of them are necessarily at the forefront of leading the celebrations of the World Environment Day in Uganda today 5th June 2024.

Long ago, on 25th April 2006, I registered an organization with the then National Board for Non-Governmental Organizations, whose Chairperson was the late Joyce R. Mpanga (Mrs).  I called the organisation Integrated Environmental Concern (U) (IEC-U). My thinking then was that concern for the environment was too individualistic, especially at the University and the national level.

Unfortunately, education and the products of education at the time were also individualistic; a consequence of disciplinary knowledge production, management and transfer. This fact undermined the IEC-U. There was a critical shortage of people with integrated minds to drive the mission of IEC-U towards realizing its vision of integrated conservation of the environment of Uganda.

When IEC-U was registered under the then “The Non-Governmental Organisations Registration Statute 1989”, the NGO Board was unequivocal about what we wanted IEC-U to do:

“The organisation shall carry out its activities in the fields of Public Environmental Awareness, Environmental Legislation and Democracy”.

Actually I wanted to promote and popularize environmental policy-making and environmental democracy as public concerns towards protecting indigenous communities and their environments, and ensuring that there was ecological and environmental democracy in the country.  It was as if I was thinking far ahead to today when environmental legislation and environmental policy-making benefit the rich and powerful, and environmental and ecological democracy are being abused by the government, the rich and the nomadic pastoralists, pushing the indigenes to the margins of nature to etch a living, and turning many, even into internal environmental refugees, disrupting communities and their agroecological systems. Our environmental security, food security and hence future security are not so secure.

The Environment Day should not be just a day of political speeches but reflection on:

1. Integrated Knowledge and Integrated Environmental Management and Conservation

2. Environmental Awareness for All from top to bottom

3. Protection of the Indigenes and their Environments.

4. Taking Ecological and Environmental Democracy Seriously

5. Environmental Policy-Making for the Environment, not for the Rich and Powerful

7. The Environmental Illiteracy and Ignorance of the Government.

8. The Scourge of Nomadic Pastoralists who are eroding Ecological and Environmental Democracy everywhere in Uganda.

9. Taking Environmental Politics Seriously in all the Universities.

10. Introduction and institutionalizing Environmental Education at all levels of Education and fields of knowledge.

This could constitute a Ten-Point Programme for Environmental Renewal in Uganda.

For God and My Country.

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Written by Oweyegha Afunaduula (3)

I am a retired lecturer of zoological and environmental sciences at Makerere University. I love writing and sharing information.

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