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Kampala Urged to Emulate EU Cities on Climate Change Mitigation

KAMPALA

Kampala Capital City Authority has been urged to emulate some European cities in designing innovations to mitigate climate change.

The European Union Ambassador to Uganda Kristian Schmidt says that although European cities are characterized by high energy consumption, high greener house emissions and high levels of energy access and urban activities, they are not as vulnerable to climate change as Uganda's capital Kampala.

He said that on the contrary, Kampala, which uses less energy and emits less greenhouse gases is more prone to disasters due to lack of mechanisms to mitigate the impacts of climate change. He warns that as Kampala develops, it will possibly increase the level of emissions to the environment.

"If you want to learn from Europeans, we have made mistakes and we have found solutions. You can leave from our mistakes and solutions to make Kampala a better city," he said.

Kristian Schmidt made the appeal this morning while speaking at the launch of the Kampala Climate Change Action Strategy, a 5 year strategic plan aimed at mainstreaming climate change responses in all city services. The strategy, launched at City Hall in Kampala today is expected to put the city on a low carbon and greenhouse emission development path.

The KCCA engineering director Andrew Kitaka noted that Kampala's rapid expansion has resulted into environmental degradation, increased emission and deteriorating air quality. He said the city's energy demand and greenhouse emission will go up as population increase.

The climate change action plan will address three key components; developing short and long-term adaptation strategies to climate change impacts, charting a low emissions development path and transforming the threat of climate change into an opportunity for residents.

Kristian Schmidt pointed out poor garbage collection, destruction of green spaces, flooding and air quality as key areas that need attention, political will and public support in line with the targets of the strategy.

"The quality of air in Kampala is perhaps not as good as in one of the European cities like Berlin, Paris or Copenhagen. That is something that you should think about."

Schmidt advised Kampala City authorities to think about alternative public transport means to reduce transport congestion. He argued that motorcycle transport (bodaboda) will not be a solution to traffic jam.

His plea comes amid renewed pressure for countries to 'dramatically' step up their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions - by 25 per cent more than those pledged in Paris in 2015. The agreement, seeks to tame the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Scientists around the world agree that limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade would reduce the probability of severe storms, longer droughts, rising sea levels and other devastating climate-related events. However, they caution that even a lower target of 1.5 degrees centigrade will reduce rather than eliminate impacts.

In line with the targets, several European cities are devising means to mitigate impacts of climate. The initiatives include; improving the energy performance and resilience of buildings in Hannover (Germany) and Umea (Sweden), managing water flows, in Glasgow (UK) and Isola Vicentina (Italy), facilitating sustainable mobility, in Larnaca (Cyprus) and Zagreb (Croatia).

Also listed quoted as success stories in mitigating climate climate change is a plan to renature urban spaces, in Lisbon (Portugal) and Bologna (Italy) as well as managing urban growth, with examples from Vienna (Austria) and Barcelona (Spain).

These are listed in a publication recently launched by the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, an EU initiative that brings together local and regional authorities committed to implementing EU climate and energy.

 
 

32 Parishes Lack Chiefs

 
 
 

KABALE

Thirty two out of the seventy parishes in Kabale District operate without parish chiefs. Most of the parishes haven't had a parish chief for over three years.

The absence of parish chiefs hinders the implementation of key programs like local revenue collection.

Abert Matsiko Mutungwire, the Chief Administrative Officer Kabale District, says currently some of the parish chiefs handle more than one parish.

He says the shortage of parish chiefs has hampered the smooth operation of activities at the parish level.

Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the Kitanga Parish Priest in Kashambya Sub County, says even the available Kitanga parish chief isn't qualified to hold the office.

Batanyenda says most of the government projects, which need supervision by the parish chiefs have been left to waste.

He accuses the district leadership of keeping silent on the issue of the parish chiefs, yet they play a vital role.

Robert Kakuru Byamugisha, the Director Kick Corruption out of Uganda, a non-governmental organization that fights corruption, says the absence of parish chiefs affects development since they are charged with the responsibility of chairing village planning meetings.

James Mugisha, the Acting Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kabale district, says their hands are tied since they can't recruit new parish chiefs.

 
 

MPs Scrutinise Human Rights Bill

 
 
 

KAMPALA

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has started scrutinising the Human Rights (Enforcement) bill, 2015. The bill was tabled by Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka.

It seeks to enforce Article 50 (4) of the constitution, which compels parliament to enact laws for the enforcement of rights and freedoms provided for in Chapter four of the Constitution. These include the right to life, respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment, right to own property, right to privacy, right to education and others.

Parliament hasn't enacted any laws under Article 50 (4), which provide for the enforcement of human rights by all persons, institutions and organs of government since the 1995 constitution was promulgated.

The Human Rights (Enforcement) bill, 2015 limits the enforcement of human rights by the High Court and empowers any person or organization to initiate a human rights and enforcement action before the same court.

It however restricts he High Court's powers not to issue redress where the same is available under any other law such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Act. On procedures, Clauses 5 to 6 provide that for a matter to be taken to court, it should be by an Ordinary Complaint and the matter should be heard in open court by a single judge.

The bill also provides for reference from a subordinate court or tribunal, if in the course of any proceedings any question of violation of a fundamental right and freedom guaranteed under Chapter four of the Constitution arises. In this case, proceedings in the subordinate court are stayed until the High Court determines the human rights question, and the decision of the high court is binding on the subordinate one.

Clause 7 of the bill empowers High Court to make all orders it considers necessary and appropriate for the enjoyment of rights and freedoms including compensation when a right has been violated, unlawfully denied or there is need for its enforcement.

The bill also provides for appeals from the High Court to the Court of Appeal. Kamateeka, who also doubles as the chairperson of the Human Rights Committee appeared before the Legal committee today to defend her bill. She told the committee that once approved the bill will give people an opportunity to choose to file human rights violation cases before the Uganda Human Rights Commission or courts of law.

However, some committee members led by Robinah Rwakoojo, the Legal Committee Vice Chairperson wondered whether the bill will not limit powers of Uganda Human Rights Commission. Kamateeka clarified that the Human Rights bill does not in any way limit the powers of Uganda Human Rights Commission.

Kamateeka also said that due to the absence of enforcement procedures, applicants are currently at the mercy of the judges.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) says that Clause 4 of the bill should be amended to grant original jurisdiction of human rights cases to the Chief Magistrates Court.

Dr. Rebecca Amollo, the FHRI Research and Advocacy Officer told legislators that it would be easier for complainants to receive justice in the magistrates' courts due to the case backlog in High Court.

Different reports have in the past pinned government agencies for various human rights violations, including arbitrary killings, torture and cruel treatment, poor conditions in detention centres and harassment of opposition politicians.

In 2016, a human rights report by the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy highlighted lack of respect for the integrity of the person (unlawful killings, torture, and abuse of detainees), restrictions on civil liberties (freedoms of assembly, expression), and violence and discrimination against marginalised groups, such as women and children as the most serious human rights problems in Uganda.

 
 

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