NAIROBI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- East African governments should reverse human activities in biodiversity to save forest and wetland loss, a Ugandan environmentalist said on Wednesday.
Kimbowa Richard with the East African Sustainability Watch Network (EASWN) said that from what is recorded on the ground, environmental degradation has reached high levels in the region.
"With its vast resources, the East African countries have a huge potential to uplift people from poverty if water, forests, wetlands, wildlife and climate are managed sustainably," Kimbowa told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi.
The environmentalist called for planned use of shared resources such as Lake Victoria and Mount Elgon to reduce conflicts over resources.
He also called for a regional approach to managing climate change by introducing actions that could help reduce poverty amongst populations as well as improve ecosystems.
Kimbowa attributed the rate of forest and wetland ecosystem loss to the needs of a fast growing population that require food, water and fuel for cooking and lighting.
He said that populations are dependent on fuel wood for cooking and lighting, and affected by food insecurity due to delayed rains as a result of climate change.
"The widespread use of polluting fuels and technologies for cooking continues to pose serious health and socioeconomic concerns in the region," he said.
He called for the adoption of successful technologies in addressing behavioral change, cultural norms and regional variations.
The environmentalist suggested the use of clean cooking technologies to benefit environmental restoration and better health of population in the region.
"The transitioning to clean cooking requires tailored policies and programs that focus on key barriers to the adoption of clean cooking solutions, such as their affordability, lack of supply, and social acceptability," he added.
Kimbowa urged the regional governments to enhance multi-sectoral collaboration, public and private investment in clean cooking to help reduce the wanton destruction of trees.
"There is need to apply bottom-up approach in managing climate change so as to meet the international climate actions," he said.
The environmentalist observed that action on climate change in East Africa can be achieved at both strategic and practical levels to be able to plan for the fast growing population.
He said that the region requires solutions such as improved smokeless cook stoves, household size biogas plants, solar energy technologies (solar drying units, solar cells for lighting), and improved water mills, adaptation technologies, organic farming, agro forestry and woodlot establishment to meet energy and food needs.