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Wetland degradation has been a severe environmental problem since the 1970s despite the multiple values wetlands provide. Wetlands are a source of clean water, fodder, construction materials, and they sustain biodiversity. The natural resources obtained from wetlands enhance human health, livelihood and survival, and provide important economic, social and ecological benefits to present and future generations. However, the increasing demand for wetland services has led to overexploitation and degradation of these resources. Wetland degradation is becoming a major environmental problem in the world, moreover, with unsustainable utilization of limited natural resources, population increase, desertification, soil erosion and declining agricultural land productivity. In Uganda, wetlands Current exploitation for informal survival jobs for urban dwellers may be a trade-off between the provision of food at a table in the short-term and the loss of important ecosystems services in the long-term.
The environment, natural water sources as part has over the years suffered consequences of youth unemployment in Uganda. Uganda is the second youngest population in the world with of 78% of the population as below the age of 35 with a youth unemployment rate of over 73% yet every year over 4,000 people are graduated from university. The situation is such that for every job advertised only 1 in 500 applicants gets it. This situation has caused young people to depend on the natural environment for sources of livelihood among which some are, car washing, farming, quarrying, brick laying, and mining which are all of not well managed sources of destruction to environmental sustainability. We have over the years observed that fish sizes caught have become smaller and fewer, other plants like papyrus growth has reduced and so affecting those that depend on them to economically sustain their families. Assure Uganda an advocate for climate justice tackles this challenge through media campaign, organised climate strike to call attention of the relevant stakeholders. We have carried out campaigns and activities against water and wetlands pollution in Mpigi and Kabale districts though, of course countered by police with so many of us wounded as they hiding under the Public order management act.But not to give up, our strategy is in two forms; training those utilising the water bodies and wetlands as sources of livelihood because we realise, they need to survive and we cannot stop them from working but also, we can create a win win situation for both them and these water bodies and all life in them. We are also engaging the government body in charge of protecting the natural environment. Assure Uganda has put out a set of workable recommendations to have the government and other development partners support the youths who are using the water sources for washing cars but also put-up better tools to ensure these young people preserve these natural water sources. To date, 40 youths using swamps to wash cars have undergone a training on how they can continuously and sustainably use the waters and wetlands and also avoid soaps and detergent from flowing back into the water sources that pollute the waters with chemical substances. Seven washing bays that were in wetlands have been closed and the wetland restoration is ongoing. The organisation has already worked a concept and shared with the National Environmental Management Authority to have a stakeholder meeting to share these concerns and have workable solutions moving forward.