Environmental degradation refers to the deterioration of the natural environment through human activities. This can include things like pollution, deforestation, overfishing, and climate change. These activities can have negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and human health and well-being.
Environmental degradation in Uganda has been a result of both human and physical factors explained below.
- Overgrazing due to overstocking by pastoral tribes like Karamajong in Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto and Hima of Kiruhura, Sembabule, Mbarara, etc. This has led to devegetation exposing the land to soil erosion and loss of fertility thus land degradation.
- High population pressure in areas of Kisoro, Kabale, and Mbale which has led to land fragmentation thus over cultivation of land leading to reduced soil productivity causing land degradation.
- Extensive swamp reclamation like in Nabajjuzi wetland in Masaka for settlement, and Mpologoma and lumbuye wetlands for cultivation, this has led to loss of birds and animal habitats, drying up of streams, reduced land productivity and arid conditions.
- Monoculture has led to the depletion of soil nutrients and a general loss of soil productivity. Coffee and banana growing areas of Mukono, Masaka, Mbale, tea growing at Kyamuhunga in Bushenyi, sugar cane growing at Lugazi season by season has all led to land degradation.
- Deforestation for purposes of wood fuel and timber in Mabira, Budongo, mt. Elgon forests has led to loss of forests. The continued loss of forests has led to soil erosion and degradation and low and unreliable rainfall in such areas.
- Bush burning by pastoral tribes of Hima in Isingiro, Kiruhura, and Karamajongs in Kaabong, Kotido, has led to the loss of vegetation leading to soil erosion and degradation.
- The use of pesticides and overuse of fertilizers in rice growing at Doho, kasaku tea in Mukono, and coffee growers in Masaka and Mpigi all at the end leads to pollute soils, leads to the death of soil living organisms that are responsible for soil formation thus land degradation.
- Industrialization has led to water and air pollution, especially in industrial cities and towns of Jinja, Kampala, Kasese, Tororo, etc. This emanates from industrial fumes and wastes like Uganda breweries at Luzira polluting lake Victoria leading to the death of aquatic life and thus degradation.
- The effect of poor disposal of industrial products like plastic bottles, and polythene bags, which takes long to decay causing soil deterioration. Companies such as coca cola, Nile house of plastics are responsible for the accumulation of plastic products into soils thus land degradation.
- Mining of minerals like copper at Kilembe-Kasese has led to mineral exhaustion and land deformation, and clay at Kajjansi-Wakiso has deteriorated swamps affecting rain formation and ecosystem thus swam reclamation.
- The continued road construction involves excavating the landscape leading to soil erosion and landslides. Roads like Kampala-Kabale, Kampala-Gulu, Northern-by pass, and Entebbe express highway, have reclaimed swamps, deformed land and cleared forests.
- Political instabilities in Uganda since the 1970s, With the 1980s Luwero triangle war, the 20 year LRA Kony war in Gulu, ADF-Kasese threats, and Kampala city demonstrations all leads to loss of lives, vegetation and land degradation. Also, the tear gas affects man, animals, insects, and the ozone layer.
- The practice of indiscriminate fishing and the use of poison during fishing has affected aquatic life leading to exhuastion. On lakes such as Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, fish has reduced and water contaminated by poison affecting human life .
- Increasing use of second hand motor vehicles, computers and other machinery which emits nitrogen-oxide and other fumes leading to air pollution. In congested towns such as Kampala, and Jinja, human life is affected by such fumes causing cancer, acidic rains received and global warming.
- Floods due to heavy rains have destroyed agricultural land, crops and settlements. Elnino rains of 1997-98 in Uganda led to floods that caused diseases like cholera in Kampala, killed people in Bwaise and kalerwe, destroyed crops in soroti, caused erosion in Kisoro thus land degradation.
- Mass wasting in form of landslides in Bududa and Bulambuli have burried and destroyed a variety of fauna and Flora. Such slides have caused devegetation, deformation of landscape and death of people.
- Weeds such as water hyacinth on lake Kyoga and Victoria has affected fish existence since it absorb oxygen gas from water thus fish death. The weeds also affect boat movement and the general fishing industry.
- Crop pests like locusts, cartapillas, and diseases such as coffee wilt, banana wilt, all attack and destroy Flora in form of crops and trees in Mabira, Mpigi, Luwero, etc. This reduces crop productivity and changes natural vegetation.
- In addition to above are animal pests like ticks, tsetse flies, which attack and reduce the quality of animals both domestic in Kaabong, Kiruhura, mbarara and also diseases such as foot and mouth, East coast fever killing animals in Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo national Park. This lowers the productivity of fauna in Uganda.
- Drought ie prolonged sunshine in the Karamoja areas of Moroto, Kaabong, western rift valley of Kasese, has caused land degradation. Drought leads to wind erosion, reduced vegetation cover and affects the water table thus degradation.
- Heavy rains characterized by hailstorms have destroyed crops and killed animals in Isingiro, Iganga, Kamuli, Kayunga, etc. Such strong winds have reduced productivity in crops, led to famine and general effects to wildlife.