The Minister of State for Environment, Beatrice Anywar has sought parliament’s approval of a 286 billion Shillings loan request from the World Bank to restore forests in the country.
Anywar presented the loan request before Parliament’s National Economy Committee today alongside the Minister of State for Planning David Bahati.
If availed, the funds will be used to improve management of 1,157,073 hectares in 28 Central Forest Reserves, 7 National Parks and 4 Wildlife Reserves in Albertine and West Nile regions.
The project also involves construction of 162Km electric fence around Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, digging 84.3Km of trenches around Kibale National Park and constructing 13.2Km of buffalo stone wall fence around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and establishing 800 acres of tea around Bwindi National Park.
The project which will also see the construction of tourism access murram roads and bridges within National Parks and Forest Reserves to facilitate access to tourists will also help promote sustainable management of forests and protected areas, tree planting on private land and others.
Uganda Radio Network-URN learnt that the total project will cost US Dollars 178.2 million, approximately 652.665 billion and out of this, the World Bank will provide a loan of US Dollars 78.2 million equivalent to 286.352 billion Shillings and a grant of US Dollars 70 million. The loan if approved will be paid in 39 years with a grace period of 6 years.
Uganda’s Government also will provide funding of US Dollars 30 million approximately, 111 billion that is budgeted for in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The project will cover districts of Kyegegwa, Kibaale, Adjumani, Arua among others.
According to Bahati, the move by government will create gainful employment, income and that over 22,000 green jobs along the forestry and tourism value chains will be created.
Mwenge South MP Aston Kajara wondered whether Uganda has to borrow to restore its forest cover given the rate at which the forests are being depleted.
“Our concern is… the level of degradation of the environment is so high that we aren’t securing the future of this country. Are we going to be borrowing money to restore forests which we continue to cut down without restoration?” he asked.
Kajara further questioned whether this kind of debt is safe for the country.
But Buhweju Woman MP, Olive Katwesigye appealed to Minister Anywar to intensify the fight against forest degradation instead of condemning Ugandans to debt.
She accused the Ministry of Water and Environment officials of being engaged in timber business and cutting trees.
Aywar said that the decision to borrow was prompted after a study from National Forestry Authority (NFA) which indicated that the total net loss of Uganda’s forests between 2005 and 2015 was estimated at 1.8 million hectares.