Caritas Uganda in robust interventions of saving mother earth – Advocacy Specialist, Betty reveals

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By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa KMA/Updates

Isingiro, Western Uganda: This was revealed during an exclusive interview with Betty Rose Aguti, the Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda and the National Coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) on International Earth Day cerebrations in Isingiro District last week.

Betty Rose Aguti, Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda and National Coordinator of The Uganda Framers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) responds to questions during an excusive interview on climate crisis on International Earth Day Cerebrations in Isingiro District last week. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

Today the entire world is commemorating the International Earth Day, what does this day mean to you?

This is a day that is designated all over the world to create awareness and sensitize communities about restoration of mother earth, mother earth is crying, it has been destroyed and there are many challenges that us the inhabitants are experiencing so the day is specifically calling on everyone to take action say children, adults, government and local persons.

With the theme, “Invest in our planet” what are you doing as Caritas Uganda and Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform to live by the theme?

She says Caritas being an International organization and all over the world so it is even in Uganda, there are many interventions they’ve involved themselves countrywide.

“Caritas Uganda in 2012 opened its boundaries not only to serve the catholic oriented groups/community but the entire people through the formation of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) that is also spread throughout the country with regional presence both in the North, East, Western and Central with their own steering committees headed by farmers”. Betty mentions.

Betty Rose Aguti is seen in group photos with other members of Civil Society Organizations and Isingiro District Local Government Officials during International Earth Day Cerebrations at District Headquarters last week. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

In terms of response/actions to save mother earth and climate crisis, Betty informs that Caritas Uganda teaches all their farmers all over the country and in all the dioceses on how to the make energy saving cook stoves for use in their kitchen.

They are also partnering with a Danish based company in promoting the ECOCA solar Cook stoves, an initiative they started with the Refugee Settlements they work with and that is Bidi Bidi and Palorinya in Arua Catholic Diocese.

“We are also doing a lot of tree planting and are working with National Environmental Management Authority, (NEMA), National Forestry Authority,(NFA), Ministry of Water and Environment, in all these partnership whenever there is a call, they sponsor”. Says Betty.

Betty Rose Aguti, Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda and  National Coordinator of The Uganda Framers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP)  plants a tree at Kabazana Primary School in Nakivale Refugee Settlement during CSOs visit to the schools last week. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

They encourage their farmers to at least plant trees in their gardens and priest in the church are preaching congregations to adopt best ways of conserving the environment, they are also promoting sustainable agriculture practices amongst farmers, doing education/sensitization at community level.

They are also working with Caritas Africa where the promote interventions geared towards conserving the environment and on 24th May 2015, the Pope released an encyclical/document codenamed Laudato si’ with a subtitle “on care for our common home“..

In the document, the Pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action” which must be upheld, Him being the top leader on earth.

As a policy and advocacy specialist at Caritas Uganda and the national coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, mother and environmental activist, what actions are you taking to restore and conserve the environment?

At my home, I make sure there’s reuse of water, I don’t throw away water once I’ve just used it because there are many things I may use it for, we don’t use “kaveera” in my home instead we have trendy bags at home and that’s what my children/campusers use for shopping.

Betty Rose Aguti, Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda, (L) and Hellen Kasujja, the Deputy Executive Director of Community Integrated Development Initiative, (CIDI) (R) demonstrates a tree as CSOs plant about 300 trees at Kabazana Primary School in Nakivale Refugee Settlement last week. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

She says if really she wants to use a polythene bag, uses a white heavy bag which is not easy to throw and being that its expensive as it costs UGX1,000/= so continues using it.

Betty continues to mention that she also uses briquettes for cooking which she has learnt to make herself, taught her children, urban dwellers and residents of her village. She urges that there is a lot of materials out there that can be used to makes these briquettes and for that reason took advantage of that to use it at her home which saves energy.

“Many people think its dirty work but it is the way to go if we are to have clean energy and save mother earth at the end of the day”. She added.

She notes that power is the other element she doesn’t misuse saying like if she’s to cook, does it once and abhors from the business of boiling water all the time like bathing water and, others they use power sustainably at home.

Regarding the climate crisis at hand, what are some of the recommendations would you give to see us avert this?

Betty points that climate change is real, it’s here with us and everyone is experiencing it. She says that in the past, rains used to pour in January and everyone would be out with seeds to fields and by June they are already harvesting but now it goes past April when some communities have not yet sown seeds.

This which means that climate change has already caught up with us there by calling everyone to rise not as an individual but as a group such that we can devise a sustainable solution to climate crisis.

To communities, Betty believes there is need for sustainable farming for example they should not burn the rubbish from fields because it contaminates air instead can be used as organic manure for bumper harvests as well as conserving environment.

Also communities should learn to put into use the 4Rs of waste management that is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover plastics and other materials as well as avoiding illegal dumping and littering.

Communities should also avoid wastage of energy to prepare unnecessary dishes which at the end of the day might not be fully consumed there by ending in compost pits.

People should abhor from cutting down available trees as this is greatly destroying the earth by causing global warming/excessive direct heat.

To religious leaders, it should be compulsory that before baptizing a child, both parents should plant trees and another in memory of that baptism, at wedding the bride and the groom must plant a tree in memory of their wedding instead just cerebrating an anniversary.

She notes that this should also cut across to traditional marriage, instead of bringing chicken, mortar and whatsoever, the tree must be plant for memory of their marriage as well as restoring the environment.

Jackson Muhindo, Resilience and Climate Justice Coordinator at Oxfam in Uganda, (L) Betty Rose Aguti, Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Caritas Uganda, (C) and Hellen Kasujja, the Deputy Executive Director of Community Integrated Development Initiative, (CIDI) (R)     Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

When someone dies, one’s death must be marked by planting a tree such that it will uphold that memory and benefiting the environment.

To schools Betty urges that the head teachers must make sure before children leave after completing a certain level, they should plant a tree, named after them as part of their legacy and impacting on earth’s restoration.

She clings to Members of parliament as it is pivotal in resource allocation. She points that many times parliament rejects budgets that are not gender sensitive so it should be with climate in that budget without environment conservation must be trashed if we are to ably to restore our mother earth.

To government, there should be increased allocation of resources to climate related issues like environmental protection, capacity building of communities by District Local Governments.

As well the government should like other days designate a special day for tree planting where the countryside will be mandated to plant at least a tree per year. Having done this am sure that we shall be on a positive verge of restoring the earth

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