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Uganda: Wetlands dry up as rice demand soars

The landscape has been changing dramatically near Mbale, in the east of Uganda, because of changing uses of the wetlands / Andy Johnstone - Panos Pictures

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Uganda’s wetlands – lying in Dokho, three kilometres from the Eastern Uganda town of Mbale have provided drainage and prevented flooding during rainy seasons for centuries. Communities living in these areas traditionally depended on food crops like cassava, millet, maize grain and bananas.

Now rice is rapidly replacing those to become the food of choice. Sadly, that favorite food is also becoming an environmental liability as planting it threatens to destroy the fragile wetlands. And in the face of changing weather patterns, it has become clear that Uganda must find a solution – and quick.

Emmanuel Okella finds how a local initiative is trying to ensure that rice remains on the menu without destroying the environment.

Emmanuel Okella is an independent environmental journalist and contributor to Radio Simba in Uganda. He produced this radio feature thanks to a fellowship with the Climate Change Media Partnership – an initiative of the Panos Network, Internews and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

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