President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has urged African Land Ministers to join efforts and fight land grabbing, environmental degradation, and climate change, among other challenges in their countries.
According to the President, the African continent is experiencing adverse effects of climate change, which calls for serious interventions from governments.
The President’s remarks were contained in his speech delivered by Vice President Hon Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo at the opening of the 12th Conference of Ministers of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala, on Monday, 21 November 2022.
Mr Museveni said African land ministers must find solutions to climate change and land grabbing, which he said have retarded economic growth and development in African countries.
“Planning for disasters in no longer an option but a must and key to the success is improving our planning capacity around extreme events in the region using technological and modern tools to ensure that Africa’s problems of geo information in addressing the current economic, socio-economic, environmental and other natural resources problems are tackled,” he said.
“The tools should not be developed for the sake of developing them but should be developed, used and implemented to address Africa’s problems as highlighted above,” he added.
Mr Museveni added that since RCMRD was founded to generate natural resources and environmental information using appropriate technologies in surveying and mapping in remote areas, it is time to put their skills to use.
“As you be aware, Uganda recently launched its first ever satellite, which is intended to collect data and information to be used for land, natural resources, agriculture, environment, climate change among others. This calls for continued collaboration for the Centre in provision, analysis and usage of such information, particularly in the provision of geo-information that will be used for the development of the region and other African Countries,” read part of Mr Museveni’s speech.
He urged the organisation to enhance resources used in agriculture, particularly irrigation and other productive sectors.
“It is shameful for African Countries that have good soils for crops end up having food insecurity,” the President said.
“Finally, I wish the Governments in Eastern and Southern Africa, the member State of RCMRD, the partners and all stakeholders fruitful and productive deliberations as you pool your collective and individual resources and capacities together, which shall lead to the implementation of policies, laws, regulations and interventions that will promote the transformation of our countries,” he added.
Uganda’s Land Minister Judith Nabakooba, who is the current chairperson of RCMRD, said the organisation was established in 1975 in Nairobi under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Uganda was the main signatory.
She said it was started with five countries that included Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Botswana but currently has 20 countries from both East, Southern and Central Africa.
The minister said organisation (RCMRD) was purposely established to generate natural resources and environmental information using appropriate technologies in surveying, mapping, remote sensing, photogrammetry etc. and organize this information into suitable formats, readily available for immediate use for development related purposes.
Nabakooba added the organisation evaluates the progress of implementation of the 2019-22 plan and will report to the council of ministers.
“Over the years, Uganda as a country has benefitted from the services of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in line with its mandate of providing capacity building, advisory services, implementation of programs, and undertaking Research and Development of innovative solutions and services on geo-information as well as allied technologies to Member States and other stakeholders,” she said.
She, however, said URMRD faced some challenges such as the need to improve access to survey services to the public and the grassroots persons especially the vulnerable, women, and the poor who cannot afford the surveying costs.
She added that they are still facing the challenge of improving accuracy of surveys, research, training and capacity building.
The minister said the delegates at this year’s Conference of Ministers will share experiences, connections and unique opportunities in geo-spatial information and technologies that support sustainable development.
“This is key for our country as we are on the journey to the middle income status and much more,” the minister said.