Integrated Mobile Environmental Programme (IMEAP)
Environmental problems have become a global concern, and Africa is no exception. An Example here is Uganda which is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of about US$ 420 per year (World-Bank World Development Indicators Database, July 2009) is also having its share of the problem. An African economy like that of Uganda largely natural resource based, with over 80% of the population living in rural areas and engaged on agro-pastoralism for food and income (NEMA, 2001). With a GDP growth rate of about 6% and a population growth rate of 2.7%, natural resource exploitation is expected to continue to form the basis for livelihoods of the majority people in the foreseeable future. The agricultural land in Uganda is being cultivated primarily by small-scale farmers, with an average farm size of 2.5 ha (Zake et al. 1999). The present level of Uganda’s forestland is just about 20% of its original value in 1890 as a result of deforestation. The major causes of deforestation are provision of wood fuel and clearing of land for agricultural activities. About 90% of the total population who live in rural areas directly depend on firewood for their energy needs, and a big fraction of the urban dwellers depend on charcoal. In general, about 92% of Uganda’s source of energy is wood fuel.
The major problems in Uganda’s dry-lands are:
- Inappropriate farming systems
- Land and tree tenure and bush burning
Due to the increasing demand for charcoal and other tree related products derived from the dry-lands, there is a big decline in the tree cover in these areas, justifying the need for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to address this and other environmental issues.
More so, greater population of the people of Uganda uses the pit latrine and as these are usually communal, their proper use, maintenance and upkeep are neglected. As a result they become filthy and fall into despair, forcing people to defecate wherever they can. This attracts flies, which in turn transmit diarrhoeal diseases, hence, the high prevalence of these diseases in most of the communities. It is also true that most of the environmental problems in Uganda have their root-cause being the wrong attitude and perception of people towards the environment. According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the projected median age of the population by 2017 is 15 years.
Thus, in order to change these attitude and wrong perception, the Integrated Mobile Environmental Awareness Network (IMEAP) seeks to create environmental awareness especially among young people (the decision makers of tomorrow) which is tailored to the environmental challenges of African countries like Uganda.
Among the aims of the project are:
- reduction of flooding during the rainy season
- reduction of soil degradation
- proper management and disposal of waste, improved hygiene and sanitary conditions in communities
- reduce malaria, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases
- the conservation of bio-diversity thus creating an enabling environment for successful living.
The tree planting exercise ensures:
- ecological balance
- prevent desertification
- soil erosion and climatic change
IMEAP includes activities like:
a. Organising Training Workshops for Youth Leaders and Trainers
b. Conduct massive Environmental Awareness Campaign in the Selected School Communities(SSC)
c. Formation of Environmental Clubs in the Schools
d. Preparation and launching of Interactive Multimedia for Communication on Environmental and Personal Hygiene
The main topics of the awareness campaign comprise
1. Malaria Facts & Tips
2. Our Climate is changing
3. Waste Management and Sewage Disposal
4. Personal Hygiene
5. Energy & Biodiversity Conservation
6. Preservation of Forest Resources
7. Use & Re-Use of Environmental Friendly Products
These empowers the youth to help address most of the environmental problems affecting the population in Africa. The long term effects of the Project is invaluable to the communities and may include:
- reduction of flooding during raining season as a result of choked gutters and blocking of waterways with solid waste
- proper management and disposal of waste
- improved, hygiene and sanitary conditions
- reduction of malaria and diarrhea thus creating an enabling environment for healthy living.
The tree planting exercise helps improve ecological balance, prevent desertification, soil erosion and provide trees that can be harvested for domestic use within the communities. IMEAP can empower the youth in Africa to pursue sustainable agenda towards MDGs and SDGs. The implementation of IMEAP in a defined can be done using 8 districts in 16 schools with each district having one primary and one secondary school.