On the road to Paris, a wave of hope manifested in the impressive number of ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) testifies the commitment of developing countries to address climate change, though without assurance of support.
A recentassessment of the submitted INDCs by civil society had found that commitments captured in INDCs will not keep temperatures below 1.5°C or 2°C, above pre-industrial levels. The current INDCs represent substantially less than half of the reduction in emissions required by 2030.
“Government should come to our rescue as weonly get to eat once every two days.” These are some of the sentiments reported in the media as drought and famine hit some parts of UgandaSince August 2015 to date.In May 2013, heavy rains in Kasese district caused severe flooding in 9 sub-counties leaving 8 people dead and displacing 9,663 according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC).According to Uganda humanitarian profile (OCHA 2011), the 2010 landslides buried 3 villages, leaving 83 people dead and more than 300 missing.
Increasing frequency and intensity of weather and climate related disastersare being witnessed in all partsof the World including Uganda with severe impacts on women and children.
We the civil society advocating for climate justice globally and in Uganda having met on September 30, 2015 at Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala,
NAPE joins the rest of the world to commemorate International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA).
This year's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme is, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," which has focused on the importance of the many ways parents can reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) with support from IPEN is creating awareness about the harmful aspects of Lead in selected schools. NAPE is conducting lectures to pupils in primary schools on Lead and Lead poisoning and the major pathways for exposure to lead poisoning including paints, batteries, lead contaminated toys and lead contaminated dust among others.
It has been observed that children under the age of 6 years old are at an increased risk for lead exposure, due to their rapid rate of growth and their tendency to place toys, their fingers and other objects in their mouths that could be containing lead or leaded dust, and thus are more prone to ingestion of lead paint chips and house dust or soil that may contain lead particles.
Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. It is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children. Its widespread use has resulted in extensive environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems in many parts of the world.
Important sources of environmental contamination include mining, smelting, manufacturing and recycling activities, and, in some countries, the continued use of leaded paint and leaded gasoline.
Lead is particularly dangerous because once it gets into a person's system; it is distributed throughout the body just like helpful minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. The body stores lead in the teeth and bones where it accumulates over time.
Lead stored in bone may be remobilized into the blood during pregnancy, thus exposing the fetus. And lead can cause harm wherever it lands in the body. In the bloodstream, for example, it can damage red blood cells and limit their ability to carry oxygen to the organs and tissues that need it, thus causing anemia.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young; including the developing fetus, and the impoverished.
Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with mental retardation and behavioural disruption. However, at lower levels of exposure it causes no obvious symptoms, and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.
In particular lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.
Moreover, children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behaviour result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes of decaying lead-containing paint. This route of exposure is magnified in children with persistent and compulsive cravings to eat non-food items, who may, for example pick and eat, leaded paint from walls, door frames and furniture. Exposure to lead-contaminated soil and dust resulting from battery recycling may result into massive lead poisoning and multiple deaths in young children.
Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.
Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143 000 deaths per year with the highest burden in developing regions. Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.
There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Even blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dl, once thought to be a “safe level”, may result in decreased intelligence in children, behavioural difficulties and learning problems. But it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases. However, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.
Drinking water delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder may contain lead. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.
Sources and routes of exposure
People can become exposed to lead through occupational and environmental sources. More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles. Lead is, however, also used in many other products, for example pigments, paints, solder, stained glass, crystal vessels, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewellery and toys. This mainly results from:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified lead as one of ten chemicals of major public health concern, needing action by Member States to protect the health of workers, children and women of reproductive age.
Women leaders and miners from Bunyoro and Rwenzori sub-regions have petitioned government to set up a mineral wealth fund through which they can directly benefit from proceeds from the exploitation of minerals.
They made the resolution on Thursday in Hoima Town during the launch of the Action Research on the Impacts of Extractive Industries on women in Africa.
The research was conducted by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Women’s Alliance on Mining (Womin) in selected African countries including Uganda, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Ghana and South Africa.
The research findings, among others, state that women miners of salt at Lake Katwe work without protective gear and suffer consequences of prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals. According to the research findings, they have experienced inflammation of the uterus, dehydration and chemically-induced burns.
The WoMin, an African Gender and Extractives Alliance in collaboration with National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) launch its Participatory Action and Research (PAR) on women miners from Katwe Salt Lake, Western Uganda.
The PAR is part of a seven community based studies of women and mineral/oil-based development carried out by WoMin alliance members in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The launch also coincides withWorld Food Day and International Rural Women’s Day which falls squarely within WoMin’s regional work focusing on working class and peasant women in the extractive industries.
As WoMin, NAPE, and local partners recognise the importance of celebrating the International Rural Women’s Day theme, “Recognizing the role of women in improving rural development and food security” we wish to acknowledgethe numerous injustices inflicted upon women by extractive models of development. For example, women in Hoima have suffered greatly due to the land acquisition process for oil development. We particularly seek to highlight the challenges faced by women salt miners from Katwe Salt Lake in Kasese District.
The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Oil Watch Uganda, African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) and several other environmental groups have rallied to demand delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Parliamentarians and the global community to take urgent and meaningful action on climate change this week in Germany.
The action is part of a global day of action in more than 50 countries calling for a more just and sustainable energy system and for policymakers to end the undue influence and obstruction of climate policy by transnational fossil fuel corporations.
NAPE recognises the challenges associated with climate change adaptation in a poor country like Uganda and the lack of willingness for developed countries to play their role in assisting poor countries to adapt climate change. We have, therefore, decided to resort to empowering communities; through awareness raising, so that they can be able to demand for responsible behaviour from the worlds renowned polluters.