By Gerald Tenywa
Conservation Efforts for Community Development (CECOD), a Ugandan NGO is among the three winners of an international award given by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the ongoing environment conference in Rio de Janeiro.
According to a statement by UNCCD, CECOD was named one of the winners of the Land for Life Award on the World Day to commemorate efforts to combat desertification and also received $30,000 (Ush75m) as part of the award.
“These three winners exemplify the type of leadership and initiatives which are making the difference at the grassroots level, improving livelihoods and ensuring land stewardship,” said Luc Gnacadja, the executive secretary of the UNCCD.
“We need to learn from them and help them scale up their work and disseminate the lessons learnt.”
According to the UNCCD statement, CECOD was recognized for increasing practical knowledge of sustainable development and turning children into agents of change in rural communities through creating a network of eco-schools and training 7,500 teachers.
Also cited by UNCCD as outstanding achievements is that CECOD engaged 34,700 children in micro interventions like organic farming and water harvesting.
“The land resources we use today are only borrowed from the next generation. Meanwhile the current effects of desertification and climate change are a result of mistakes made by the recent past generation,” said Robert Isingoma, CECOD country director.
“We must put the current generation at the centre of environmental planning and let it take charge of shaping a sustainable future.”
The Ugandan NGO’s conservation efforts started in south-western Uganda as a pilot programme in 2006 and currently it cover parts of Bushenyi, Isingiro, Mbarara and Sheema.
The cover makes up part of Uganda’s cattle corridor that runs from south-western Uganda (Ntungamo and Rakai) across central Uganda through districts like Nakasongola, Luwero and Kamuli to north eastern Uganda.
It receives little rain and is prone to drought during the dry season and flooding in the rain season.
Other winners included Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) in Haiti and Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion.
More than 100 applications for the prize were received from 52 countries and 15 semi-finalists were selected.
The competition was open to individuals, NGOs, Governments, businesses, media and others that could demonstrate contributions to sustainable land management.
“How land is managed has a huge impact on the natural ecological systems and resources,” said Yolanda Kakabadse, President of World Wildlife Fund International who was speaking on behalf of the jury.
“Degraded or abandoned lands need rehabilitating while pressure on land and water resources-which are becoming less and less predictable need to be reduced. I applaud the Land for Life Award in recognizing leadership and innovation in sustainable land management today.”