By Tony Achidria
In an ever-changing world, the delicate balance between development and environmental conservation becomes increasingly crucial. Local communities and governments play a pivotal role in ensuring the sustainable coexistence of these two imperatives. Recognizing this need, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), embarked on a journey to empower local government stakeholders in the Lango sub-region with the knowledge and skills to implement the Mitigation Hierarchy effectively.
To enhance local capacity for biodiversity management, NEMA and WCS organized a three-day training program in the heart of Lira city. The participants included natural resource managers, environment officers, city planners, agricultural officers, and various other key figures in the local government.
The primary goal of this training was to equip local government stakeholders with the necessary skills to assess potential impacts to for projects through application of the mitigation hierarchy, including offsets. By doing so, they would ensure proper planning and management of biodiversity alongside the development projects that are essential for regional growth.
The training was expertly facilitated by a team of seasoned professionals. Dr. Grace Nangendo and Mr. Tom Geme from WCS, along with representatives of NEMA’s Executive Director – Dr. Akankwasah Barirega, led by Ms. Anne Nakafeero, Ms. Aidan Asekenye, Ms. Nancy Allimadi, and Mr. Francis Ogwang from NEMA, took on the responsibility of imparting their extensive knowledge and experience to the participants.
The three-day training was divided into three comprehensive modules, each designed to provide a thorough understanding of the Mitigation Hierarchy and its practical application in real-world scenarios.
Module 1: Introduction to the Mitigation Hierarchy
The first module aimed at introducing participants to the concept of the Mitigation Hierarchy. Understanding the types of impacts from development projects and how different stages of the hierarchy can be applied to achieve better biodiversity outcomes through the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process was the primary focus. Participants delved into the fundamentals, gaining insights into the importance of identifying potential environmental impacts from development activities.
Module 2: Designing and Implementing Biodiversity Offsets
The second module dug deeper into the complexities of designing and implementing biodiversity offsets. Participants learned about the requirements for designing and implementing offsets and the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. They explored the specifics of where and what types of offsets are necessary, along with the timing and the financial aspects of offset implementation. This knowledge was fundamental in ensuring that offsets effectively mitigate the negative impacts of development projects on local biodiversity.
Module 3: Case Study (Field Work)
The final module, led by Lira local government officials, took the participants out of the classroom and into the field. The practical challenges associated with biodiversity conservation and designing offsets were experienced first-hand. It was an invaluable opportunity for participants to apply the knowledge they had gained in a real-world context, deepening their understanding of the complex issues at hand.
Three sites were visited during the field exercise including Railway Seed secondary school and Tesobar boundary road that are both still under construction. The third site that the participants visited was Gulsan Aler Quarry where the team was able to observe activities such as rock blasting, crashing and material transportation.
Participants ended the training equipped with the knowledge necessary to make a real difference in their communities, ensuring that development projects are conducted in harmony with nature.
By empowering local government stakeholders with the tools and knowledge required to assess and mitigate the environmental impacts of development projects, this initiative promises to foster a balance between progress and conservation.
As the training concluded, the participants left with more than just a certificate. They took with them the power to drive positive change in their communities. With NEMA and WCS as guiding lights, the Lango sub-region is now better equipped to ensure that future development
The collaboration between NEMA and WCS, and the dedication of the local government stakeholders, underscores the importance of such training initiatives in building a sustainable future where development and biodiversity conservation go hand in hand. This collaborative effort serves as a testament to the power of partnerships in shaping a more harmonious future for our environment and our communities.