NEMA engages Resident District/City Commissioners from Northern Uganda and West Nile in Environment and Social Safeguards

The Government of Uganda is implementing the Uganda Inter-Fiscal Transfer (UgIFT) Program for Results. The program aims at addressing challenges faced in financing Local Government service delivery in the selected sub-programs of Education, Health, Water, Agriculture (Micro-scale irrigation).

Under the UgIFT program NEMA is responsible for ensuring compliance with Environmental and Social Safeguards across all the programs.

It is upon that background that the National Environment Management Authority today conducted a workshop in Lira City for Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and Resident City Commissioners (RCCs) in Environment and Social Safeguards.

The activity targeted RDCs/RCCs from Northern Uganda and West Nile regions with the ultimate goal of enhancing their capacity to perform their duties in regard to environment management as stipulated by law including the Constitution, the Local Government Act and the National Environment Act No.5 of 2019.

Section 27 of the National Environment Act provides for the establishment of District Natural Resources Committees comprising of both political and technical officers.

These committees manage the environment within their jurisdictions at local government level and ensure that environmental concerns are integrated into all development projects.

RDCs and RCCs are members of their District/Urban Authorities Natural Resources Committees.

While making opening remarks at the workshop, the NEMA Board Chairperson Prof. James Okot-Okumu said: “NEMA is responsible for ensuring that Environment & Social Safeguards are adhered to, but the responsibility extends to local governments as stipulated in the National Environment Act. The workshop will impart skills on what RDCs/RCCs should look out for during the development process, including compliance and enforcement of environment crimes. Environment must be at the centre of the sustainable development process.”

Lira Resident City Commissioner Mr. Egole Lawrence welcomed the team to Lira City and added that; “Development is taking shape in Northern Uganda in places that were previously abandoned because of unrest. As leaders and representatives of the President, we have a role to champion sustainable utilization of the country's natural resources."

In his remarks, NEMA Executive Director Dr. Barirega Akankwasah thanked the RDCs/RCCs for their efforts in environment management. “This is the second engagement with RDCs/RCCs, the first was with RDCs/RCCs from Central and Western Uganda under the #UGiFT Project.

The Minister of State for Environment Hon. Beatrice Anywar who was the chief guest in her closing remarks said “Resident District Commissioners are an important senior Cadre that represent the President and coordinate the administration of Government services in the district as stipulated in Article 71 of the Local Government Act. Your role is thus clearly critical to the success of UGIFT and will be more relevant as the Ugandan government continues to deepen service delivery particularly by the Ministry of Water and Environment.”

She added “Take a keen interest on issues including; contractor`s fulfilment of environment obligations, management of waste on project sites, noise and dust control, storm water and soil erosion among others. It is important that you liaise with District Chairpersons and Chief Administrative Officers; to prevail on technical officers to effectively execute their responsibilities in this time.”

The RDCs/RCCs were trained on key thematic areas including
i)Policy, Legal and Institutional Framework for Environment Management
ii)Status of the Environment in Uganda
iii)Integrated Water Resources Management
iv)Wetlands Management in Uganda and;
v)The Role of RDCs in Environment Management

Environment Management is decentralized to Local Governments and communities who directly interact with and utilize the resources. Decentralization of Environment management is aimed at promoting public participation and involvement of the local people. This can greatly be enhanced when local leaders are knowledgeable about their roles and execute them.

A series of other capacity building trainings have been planned under the UgIFT program for RDCs/RCCs in other regions of the country.

Tony Achidria
Senior Public Relations Officer