AFRICA/UGANDA – ‘Greening the School’: the Bishops’ project continues despite the pandemic

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Kampala – Preserving and safeguarding the environment is the objective of the “Greening the School” project that the Education Commission at the Catholic Secretariat of the Uganda Bishops’ Conference is carrying out in the country, in line with the Encyclical letter of Pope Francis Laudato Sì to protect the “common Home”.
“A total of 8 dioceses across the country have launched the initiative and other projects are under consideration to extend the activities to other dioceses in the country – said the Executive Secretary of the Commission Fr. Ronald Okello. The first phase of the program is underway in the Archdioceses of Tororo and Gulu and the dioceses of Lira, Arua, Nebbi and Soroti. So far, trees have been planted on approximately 15,000 acres of land”. “Unfortunately, due to the restrictions related to the Coronavirus in order to contain the spread of the virus among students, educational institutions are temporarily closed and it is difficult to move forward in other dioceses – explains Fr. Okello. However, we are not discouraged and embrace this challenge which will see at least a couple of trees planted in each school in an attempt to protect the environment and preserve the ecological system”.
In addition to involving schools, the Secretary revealed that there are plans to extend the program to parishes of small Christian communities in order to enable them to live in a healthy and productive environment. The note sent to Agenzia Fides indicates, among other things, that the objective is to strengthen the communities in order to mobilize the resources that can help them to remain self-sufficient as far as possible. In this regard, in the framework of various projects, the Ugandan government has distributed tree seedlings to farmers in collaboration with other partners, with the aim of mitigating the consequences of global warming and climate change. The planting of trees in schools and other Catholic tertiary establishments in the country was launched in 2019 in Lira with the support of the Ministry of Water and the Environment and the collaboration of other partners such as the FAO. In Uganda, Covid-19 is experiencing a sudden and unexpected escalation. More than 54,000 cases have been recorded in the past two weeks. The country is experiencing a new lockdown, as a preventive measure, schools have been closed, travel between districts and public gatherings banned. In the country, all the main variants have been identified and there is a lot of concern above all because there are only 218 places in intensive care for 44 million inhabitants.