Assessment of the adequacy of the regulatory framework for wetlands management in Uganda
MetadataShow full item record
According to the National Environment Act No. 5 of 2019, the term “wetlands” means areas permanently or seasonally flooded by water, where plants and animals have become adapted and gazetted as such. Wetlands in Uganda are public trust resources protected under the 1995 Constitution which mandates the government and local governments to hold them in trust for the common good of all the people of Uganda. There are several instruments that constitute the regulatory framework including policies, laws, regulations, decrees and directives, guidelines and standards traced from the pre-colonial era through the colonial and post –colonial era to-date. However, the regulatory framework has several challenges that undermine its effective application including ownership and tenure, uncoordinated institutional mandates and limited capacity, weak monitoring mechanisms, permitting and the right to utilize wetlands, environmental impact Assessment and associated standards, restoration of degraded systems, and prosecution and redress for damage to wetlands, among others. The main objective of the study was to assess and determine the adequacy of the regulatory framework for the Management of Wetlands in Uganda. This involved the identification of policies, laws and institutional arrangements, and the identification of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the legal and institutional arrangements and their impacts on wetlands management in Uganda. Using the doctrinal method and selected quantitative and qualitative research methods, the study found that the regulatory framework was adequate for the management of wetlands in Uganda but will require methodological guidelines and procedures for the permitting process, risk and impact assessments, ownership and use of wetland resources, clarity of institutional mandates and roles, for its effective application. The study established that the Wetland policy has not been reviewed for over 20 years, the degradation is not effectively addressed by the restoration orders, community participation has been undermined and institutional arrangements are weak and uncoordinated due to over lapping mandates. The study also observed that some reforms have been incorporated in the NEA 5 of 2019 that could enhance effective application like payment of ecosystem services, Biodiversity offsets, and declaration of special conservation areas, but the specific provisions on wetlands management fall short of acknowledging the scientifically proven dynamics of wetlands and should be amended. Therefore, the study concluded that given that the regulatory framework for wetlands management is founded on the principle of public trust, which is enshrined in the Constitution, the desired reforms such as strengthening the institutional framework, restoration guidelines, incentives for wise use and wetlands conservation can be achieved.