Catholic Church Official Faults “human action” for Environmental Degradation in Uganda

Dr. Emmanuel Aliba Kiiza lisitening to a presentation during the 20th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Credit: ACI Africa

Environmental degradation in Uganda is a result of “human action”, a Catholic Church official has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of 20th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the National Executive Secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) said citizens are already feeling the effects of climate change.

“We have as many countries in Africa several challenges that are faced by our mother earth and the first is human action,” Dr. Emmanuel Aliba Kiiza told ACI Africa Wednesday, July 13 on the sidelines of the AMECEA Plenary Assembly that has brought together hundreds of delegates to reflect on the care for the environment in the Eastern Africa region.

Dr. Kiiza outlined some of the actions that destroy the environment, saying, “We are destroying forests; we are contaminating rivers; we are depleting the fertile soils that are supposed to be feeding us because of the methods we use to cultivate.”

“We are using a lot of fuels that contaminate the environment,” he further said, and added, “We do not have many alternative energies for cooking; so, we end up using charcoal; we end up using firewood. And by that we are depleting our forests.”


According to the Ugandan CCJP official, the negative effects of climate change are already visible in Uganda.

“Uganda used to have two beautiful seasons where we cultivate and we have high yields, but now we cannot predict,” he said, and continued, “I myself am a farmer, but you plant with uncertainty because we don't know whether it will rain or it will not rain like in the last season.”

Dr. Kiiza further recounted that in the last season, most farmers in Uganda lost their crops due to lack of rain. “Not even what we planted did we get it back,” he lamented.

Apart from human action, the Catholic official said Uganda is also facing droughts especially in the Eastern part of the country.

“We are now starting to face some drought. When you go to the Eastern part of Uganda, in the far place we call Karamoja, people are hungry,” he said, and added, “I was in Otuke District which is in Lira Diocese, and people were telling me they are now feeding on mangoes.”

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In Karamoja, Dr. Kiiza said, inhabitants “cannot grow food because of droughts that are hitting Uganda and making it impossible for them to have good use of food.”

In the July 13 interview, Dr. Kiiza said that the drought in Uganda “is a big threat in the country,” requiring “immediate action”.

To mitigate the effects of climate change on the population in Uganda, the CCJP official said the “Church is taking a number of steps in the good direction.” 

Making reference to an initiative in Uganda’s Archdiocese of Gulu, he said Archbishop John Baptist Odama “is promoting the commercialization of cassava. So, this cassava is turned into ethanol and we are using ethanol for cooking.”

According to the CCJP official, “by using this green fuel, we know things are going to change”.


“People are cultivating a lot of cassava and the same cassava, when it is transformed into ethanol, the ethanol cooks cassava, which is the best thing that is being done there,” he added.

Dr. Kiiza further said the Education Department of the UEC is also promoting green schools, an initiative that requires, he said, that schools “plant trees in the land, especially the idle land, which is also a good and now they have planted very many trees.”

In the province of Northern Uganda, Dr. Kiiza said there is “an annual competition whereby the Diocese that plants more trees, receives a trophy.”

He said there are other “good efforts that are taking place in various parts of Uganda to ensure that we reclaim our mother earth.”

The CCJP official expressed hope the Church in Uganda will tap the resolutions from delegates drawn from the nine AMECEA countries that include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia to foster initiatives to protect environmental conservation.

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“We are looking forward to the resolutions of this plenary. They will be given to us, and each department will pick from these resolutions so that we are able to implement these resolutions in Uganda,” he told ACI Africa during the July 13 interview in Dar es Salaam.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.