Uganda conservation news update – Dr. Okurut to head NEMA


As the lackluster and widely perceived mediocre two terms of office of Dr. Aramanya Mugisha at the helm of the National Environmental Management Authority came to an end, the Minister of Environment wasted no time after her re-appointment to cabinet to appoint Dr. Tom Okurut at the new NEMA boss, effective immediately.

Dr. Okurut joins NEMA from his previous position at the Lake Victoria Basin Commission where he held the office of Executive Secretary, better understood as Secretary General in layman’s terms, for several years, allowing him to get fully acquainted with the challenges he will now face at Uganda’s principle environmental protection body.

Dr. Mugisha’s terms were often riddled with controversy and in particular many questions remained unanswered over the selective application of the rules and regulations, seemingly hunting for a few and letting many more off the hooks, while ignoring regular information passed to the authority over encroachment of wetlands, especially one near this correspondent’s residence along the Konge Valley, where more developments seems to spring up every night with the watchdog having slept, not even barked leave along bitten the offenders, leading to the rephrasing of NEMA as ‘never encountered more apathy’ in this column, widely applauded but bitterly resented by NEMA’s top officials who came across the term, yet quietly accepted by some lower ranking officials in regular contact as ‘sadly true’.

Much hope is vested therefore in the new man whose reputation as a scientist and effective technocrat has preceded him even before his arrival at NEMA and his proven ability to build alliances and create political support, something he excelled in at the LVBC, will stand him good when requiring the powers that be to back his action plan and responses to put the environment first and foremost before ‘development’ which while benefiting a few will only bring negative effects and fallout to the country which so much depends on ‘staying green’, for tourism and generally for future prosperity.

Karibu Sana Bwana Tom and all the best!