Friends of Zoka engages with cultural leaders in Adjumani district

Friends of Zoka engages with cultural leaders in Adjumani district

Grassroot engagement

We had a fruitful engagement with cultural leaders in Adjumani district on Sunday 14/March/2021, this is in effort to galvanise grassroots in combating illegal logging and charcoal business, on the background that the culture and traditions of the Ma’di people rotates around a tree, this interactions has pinned down the reality of climate change and urgent need for action.The cultural leaders, in various capacities and locations offered to mobilise their subjects to plant trees and preach against illegal environmental activisties taking place in their respective area of influence, we urge all to participate in creation of awareness against climate change.

Adjumani district fails to enforce Gen. Ali’s directives on logging

Adjumani district fails to enforce Gen. Ali’s directives on logging

Adjumani district officials have allegedly failed to implement the directives issued by Gen. Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister on logging in Zoka forest reserve.

Gen. Ali who doubles as the Adjumani West County Member of Parliament (MP) earlier directed that commercial production of charcoal and issuing of licenses for forest products in the district should be suspended. He also ordered that all temporary camps of loggers and charcoal burners must be closed with immediate effect.

The Deputy Prime Minister issued the directives during the visit by a delegation from the European Union, the State Minister of Water and Environment, Ms Beatrice Anywar to determine the level of forest destruction in Zoka central forest reserve.

But barely two weeks after the meeting, a truck loaded with 34 logs of the endangered Afzelia-Africana species was intercepted at Pachara sub county in Adjumani district by the local residents.

Mr. William Omach Kitara, a resident of Amuru district also the owner of the logs confessed to having been in the logging business in Adjumani district for the last three years.

Omach revealed that he has been spending a lot of money to pass roadblocks managed by police, a reason he wants to recover his money by continuing with the business.

However, Mr. Peter Taban Data, the Adjumani resident district commissioner (RDC) directed the police to arrest the logger who is still on the run.

“I am waiting for the district to avail us with the list of loggers and charcoal burners and their location so that we can swing in action,” the RDC promised.

Mr William Amanzuru, the coordinator friends of Zoka, a civil society organization fighting against environmental abuse said the district has lost in its game after a pronouncement by the First Deputy Prime Minister.

“My expectation is that the district should have acted by arresting the loggers on spot, but to my dismay, they watched the loggers as they continued destroying the trees even after Gen. Ali’s directives,” Amanzuru stated.

Amanzuru said the logging business is not done by the locals but it is well connected with big people in government.

Meanwhile Mr Jack Byaruhanga, the Adjumani chief Administrative officer confirmed that following the pronouncement by Gen. Ali, the district is still reorganizing itself. But he noted that they have already suspended issuing of new licenses for logging.

Byaruhanga said they are now considering reinforcing patrols and also carrying out community sensitization meetings in the sub counties of Pakele, Itirikwa and Ukusijoni on the same matter.

The CAO warned that any enforcement officer who goes against the directives issued by Gen. Ali will be heavily punished by his office.

EU head of delegations to Uganda with minister of environment and Friends of Zoka members visit the depleting Zoka Forest

EU delegation in Uganda visits fast vanishing Zoka forest

A delegation from the European Union (EU) has visited the Zoka central forest reserve in Adjumani district to ascertain the level of destruction due to illegal logging.

The Wednesday 4th November visit comes at the invitation of ‘Friends of Zoka’, a local non-governmental movement formed to protect the forest from further untold logging.

The 1259-hectare natural forest boasts of the highly valuable but endangered Afzelia Africana tree species that is a top target to illegal loggers due to its value.

Mr William Amanzuru, the coordinator for friends of Zoka decried the rampant logging which he lamented will not only affect the current generation but a number of others yet to come.

He appealed to the central and the local governments to pick a keen interest in stopping the illegalities.

The friends of Zoka group has in the past accused local leaders in the district of conniving to deplete the forest.

Previous attempts by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) as well as a directive from Uganda police force to stop the dealing in the endangered tree species have all proved futile, instead more logging has been cited by locals.

In his response, Mr Attilio Pacifici, the head of European Union delegation to Uganda in an address inside the forest affirmed his support towards the cause of protecting the forest and the environment at large.

“We should make an attempt, we should all become friends of Zoka” Pacifici urged in support of the movement.

The first deputy prime minister Gen Moses Ali while presenting a memorandum of the district to the EU delegation, remarked that, after several consultations on how to stop the illegalities, the district came with a number of recommendations.

Chief among the recommendations include suspension of commercial production of charcoal and cancellation of all licenses for forest products harvested in the district.

Gen Ali also additionally said all temporary camps of loggers and charcoal burners will be closed with immediate effect and warned enforcement officers to step up or face consequences.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the state minister for water and environment who accompanied the EU team pledged to take thorough actions against the appointed leaders following the directives by the president.

“Mr RDC, when I hear the forest has been cut, I will come here and die with you before the community tasks me” Anywar warned.