Zadock Amanyisa

I have recently thought far and wide about becoming a voice for God’s silent natural resources including wetlands, which have for long time faced destruction by man, yet they can’t even defend themselves against man’s panga and fire.

I stay in a Kyeitembe ward, Bushenyi Ishaka municipality, in the western part of Uganda, where there is a swamp along the road that links to the famous Kabagarame weekly pork market. When you are passing through that swamp, you will see plastic waste in form of bottles and bags dumped in the swamp and its stream. This is so bad! It is saddening to see plastic waste dumped in our wetlands. I have seen other areas choking on plastic waste. Remember, plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade

It’s against this background that I have resolved to commit myself to spreading awareness on the importance of protecting and conserving wetlands having seen them stand dry and helpless at the hands of man and his activities like farming. We are losing wetlands at an alarming rate despite some interventions.

Plastic waste dumped in a swamp in Bushenyi town. PHOTO BY ZADOCK AMANYISA

Wetlands link land and water. This makes them turn into other sources of life to God’s creation because they hide millions of organisms on top of being important assets to human life. Some people, call them lungs of planet earth because play a pivotal role in absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, a survival for all creatures.

Contaminating with wetlands plastics

Massively produced, plastics are a vital asset for human life mostly in parts where they are still used by the population. In fact, the current innovative technologies have led 

to invention of newer and safer plastics despite the fact that challenges of plastics are not yet solved, yet the impact increases from time to time.

According to the National Geographic Society, 91% of plastic is not recycled. This means that billions of tons of plastic bottles and bags have in the past six decades become trash and are littered everywhere. Many have ended up in water bodies and wetlands.

Even though all these are happening, we cannot blame plastics, but the way they are misused. Why would any person take a plastic object from their home and dump it in a wetland? Doesn’t this show some degree of irresponsibility? I guess I am right by saying so.

Impact on wetlands, human and animal life

The impact of wetland destruction is something that occurs beyond what you and I see with naked eyes. To the best of my understanding, many wetlands are currently under attack and much of the plastic bags and containers are deliberately dumped in these wetlands. No one should lie that they do or have done it accidentally, yet the impacts of plastic waste on human health and the environment are obvious.

Plastic objects in a water channel in Bushenyi town. PHOTO BY ZADOCK AMANYISA

Plastic objects are currently in a class of major toxic pollutants. They pollute the earth and lead to air and water pollution because they are composed of toxic chemicals and non-biodegradable substance. This also mixes with food chain effecting the environment, humans and animals.

Not forgetting, continuous accumulation of plastic objects in wetlands and water bodies suffocates the ecosystem thus contributing to flooding in some areas. We have seen this happen in different parts of the earth.

 What we can do

Studies indicate that things are likely to worsen if we don’t stop bad practices of waste dumping in wetlands. It should be our collective responsibility to fight the habit and also make it our bit to protect these silent resources from vanishing.

We can also think of plastic recycling or putting plastics to some other use. Some people have ventured into making several products like decorations and crafts out of plastic. Throwing plastic in a wetland when it could be recycled is not a good idea. With this, and many, we can be sure that plastics have not gone to the swamps.

Those in authorities should make sure that there are tough fines and legal complications on whoever dumps or throws plastic irresponsibly. Authorities should also enforce proper waste management and put in place working collection points for plastics, so that these empty bottles and plastic bags do not end up in wetlands.

Construction debris dumped in a swamp. PHOTO BY ZADOCK AMANYISA

Poor disposal of plastic and waste poses a big threat to our lives and the ecosystem around us. Caring about how we use plastic objects and dispose them appropriately without dumping them anywhere will save us all.

The writer is a journalist at Countryside Reports