On Saturday May 20th, 2023, Aica Media partnered with the Teso Karamoja Media Agency (TEKAMA). Okabe Foundation and other organizations in an environment awareness run and a tree planting and distribution exercise in Serere district.
The event that was graced by Uganda’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Adoa Hellen, who is also the district woman representative for Serere as the Chief Guest, Hon Emmanuel Omoding, the Serere County Member of Parliament and also the Patron for Okabe Foundation, among other dignitaries was coupled with messages rallying people to embrace tree planting as one of the easiest means of combating climate change.
While giving speeches after the run, Noah Omuya, the founder and CEO of Aica Media and also the eastern Regional Coordinator for the Uganda Youth Coalition for SDGs, questioned the reluctance of the youth in participating in the environment conservation initiatives and the fight against climate change.
According to Omuya, statistics indicate that about 75% of Uganda’s population is of a youthful generation, which means that the fight against climate change should be fully embraced by the youth.
“It is sad that whenever such events are conducted, a greater percentage of people who turn up are the elderly and middle aged. The young people are now easily taken up by beautiful and attractive things. For example, if a young man needs to marry, he will look for a beautiful and sexy woman with a Nyash. If a young lady wants to marry, she will want a nice looking man, with money and six packs. We are now doing a research to see how to make the discussions about climate change sexy for in order to catch the attention of the youth,” said Omuya.
He further called upon the locals to embrace the initiatives geared towards environment and ecosystem restoration and asked the Member of Parliament and Minister to advocate for friendly favorable policies that do not affect the poor people when it comes to environment protection.
Mr. Esegu Julius, the Executive Director for TEKAMA and the lead organizer of the event, said their vision in the next five years is to plat 25 million trees in the region.
“Last year alone, we planted over 80,000 trees in the Teso sub region and their survival rate is at 85%. We want to restore the Teso greenery,” said Esegu.
Esegu further called upon media practitioners to take interest in spreading the message about the fight against climate change.
Mr. Ekweu James, a veteran journalist and also the board chairman for TEKAMA, appealed to locals to plant trees at all occasions.
“It is important for us to plant trees at any occasion. if you are marrying, celebrating a birthday or even on a day when you lose a dear one, plant a tree,’ said Ekweu.
Hon. Emmanuel Omoding, promised that in the next financial, he will lobby at his capacity as a legislator and also patron for Okabe Foundation for more trees.
“I know that what we have here might not be enough. But we will have to bobby for more trees so that it will be enough for everybody,” he said.
Hon Adoa while giving her address, called upon the locals embrace tree planting not only for shades and boundary demarcations, but also for future entrepreneurial benefits such as sale for timber.
The Minister also asked the locals to watch over the tree planting initiatives started by their fellow counterparts.
“Some of you, when your neighbor plants a tree, you leave your goat to go and eat up that same tree. These trees here have a lot of advantages than just the shades we enjoy,” said the Minister.
She further advised the locals to embrace government development programs such as the Parish Development Model (PDM), which also has a component of tree planting.
“Right now, the focus of this government is poverty eradication at household level and that is what the PDM is addressing. It is also clear that you cannot get out of poverty when you are hungry. The hunger we have is majorly caused by the effects of climate change. That is why much money has been allocated to PDM in order to address some of these issues,’ explained the Minister.
Joseph Ekalam, the youth councilor for Kyere Town Council called upon the youth to come together and join the fight against climate change.
“Like Mr. Omuya said, I want to encourage my fellow youth to join this movement because this is also very important not only for restoration of environment, but also the rainfall formation. Even for those who like making money, this can be a suitable economic venture,” said Ekalam.
Grace Akello, a peasant farmer from Kyere said she is inspired to plant more trees and she was going to show her children how to do so.
“I am going to plant these trees I have received here with my children and I will purposely show them how to do it, so they can also learn,” said Akello.
James Okia, the former LC3 for Serere Town Council asked the organizers and other leaders to also look for the tree species which people can use for wood fuel.
“When you look at the current environment setting, you realise that almost all the shrubs and thicket have been cleared for firewood. Maybe you should also look for those tree species which people can use for that purpose,” said Okia.
A total of 6,000 trees were distributed on this day. Out of these, Aica Media contributed an assortment of 2,000 seedlings, Okabe Foundation- 2,000 and TEKAMA 4,000 seedlings all of different species.