Women in Kyenjojo district have stepped up efforts to conserve the environment as one way of mitigating the effects of climate change.

The women groups along Matiri Central Forest Reserve have been mobilised by the Joint Effort to Save the Environment (JESE) and CARE International, with the aim of improving their household incomes, through alternative sources of income.

In Matiri Parish, the women have started making charcoal from waste materials, with an aim of stopping the encroachment on the forest reserve.

The women, through their association, Matiri Women to Save the Environment, have asked district leaders to regulate the unending depletion of trees for logs and commercial burning of charcoal.

Martha Kabazora, the chairperson of the women group, says they are sensitising people on the dangers of cutting down trees for charcoal and timber.

“We are working closely with the National Forests Authority (NFA) and district leaders to ensure that people stop encroaching on central forest reserves because if they destroy the forests, we shall suffer the consequences,” said Kabazora.

Kabazora says there is a need to outlaw adverse methods of charcoal production, unlicensed charcoal burning and taxing charcoal being transported from Kyenjojo. She says the absence of a bylaw to halt charcoal burning continues to encourage indiscriminate tree cutting for commercial charcoal burning and illegal practices of felling endangered tree species.

“People should be encouraged to start other income generating activities and stop looking at forests as their sole sources of income because many forests in Kyenjojo have been destroyed,” said Kabazora.

Mary Kobusinge, a member of the association, says the masses need to be sensitized to plant more trees to replace those that are cut to salvage the environment.

Kobusinge asserts that in order to mitigate the current crisis, the Government and development partners should jointly embark on encouraging people to embrace diversification of alternative energy sources.

Backed by Police, the NFA officials and the district officials have been setting ablaze and confiscating thousands of bags of charcoal worth millions, arresting and forcefully evicting hundreds of charcoal dealers, but the illicit business continues to thrive.

Sam Nyakoojo, a programmes officer at JESE, says they are working with women groups to conserve the environment.

Nyakoojo says they had mobilized over 800 residents to form savings association groups within their villages with an aim of increasing income at household levels.

“We are working with CARE Uganda to protect the environment by mobilizing people to engage in modern and productive agriculture so that they can earn money and improve their household incomes,” Nyakoojo said.