Tooro Kingdom has intensified efforts to conserve the environment under its ‘Save River Mpanga’ campaign.
The campaign involves clean-up activities to physically remove plastic waste from River Mpanga and to mobilise and sensitise the community about the dangers of irresponsible waste management.
The drive was stepped up in November, with Tooro Kingdom officials running community education programmes through Music, Dance and Drama to teach them how to conserve the river and the environment.
The Tooro King, Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, in a message delivered by Tooro Minister of Tourism Owek. Joan Else Adyeeri, said his vision is to see Tooro Kingdom return to greenness.
“We have identified youth in the community who are currently cleaning and collecting plastic to make sure there is a change at river Mpanga by Christmas. With the financial boost from Coca-Cola, we have provided them with drinking water, gloves, slashes, gumboots and vests,” the Omukama said.
In October, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa contributed Shs20 million to bolster the ‘Save River Mpanga’ campaign.
“Keeping our environment clean is a business for you and me. River Mpanga serves water to more than one million people for domestic and business purposes in and around Fort Portal City. We appeal to other business ventures to join the crusade of SAVE RIVER MPANGA. Currently we have engaged the community to clean the river. Everybody gets life from River Mpanga so it’s important we partner with everybody,” Adyeeri said.
She explained that River Mpanga is a lifeline for an estimated 1.2 million people in Western Uganda. From its origin in the Rwenzori Mountains, the river flows 250kilometres through the Kabarole, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo districts before reaching Lake George. Human activities along the riverbanks are threatening the flow and quality of the water.
Land encroachment, sand and stone extraction, poor waste management, pollution and poor agricultural practices have all taken a toll on the river.
The National Environment (Wetlands, Lake Shores and Riverbanks management) Management Authority regulations of 2000 state that any activity carried out near a river should be one hundred meters away from the riverbank.
Contacted for comment, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa General Manager in Uganda, Melkamu Abebe, said the ‘Save River Mpanga’ campaign is important to the entire country because the water flow supports other water systems as well.
He explained that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mbarara, Century Bottling at Makenke, uses water linked to River Rwizi, which is also linked to River Mpanga.
“We support the ‘Save River Mpanga’ campaign because the community needs this support, the Country needs clean water access wherever possible, and we are also keen to grow a culture of responsible waste disposal and management,” Melkamu said.
Coca-Cola Beverages Africa runs plastic collection and recycling operations under Plastic Recycling Industries, in Kampala.
Abebe said the Shs20million contribution to ‘Save River Mpanga’ will also support the global ‘World Without Waste’ initiative under which The Coca-Cola Company aims to help collect and recycle 100% of all plastic and aluminium waste generated by its operations by 2030.
“As well as being at the heart of everything we do, water is crucial for the life and communities our planet sustains. Using water sustainability is essential to the future of our business and thus we have the responsibility to look after it,” Abebe added.
“Our current approach is designed around four strategies – protect, reduce, recycle and replenish – that touch every aspect of our operations, both inside and outside our factories. We act in ways to create a more sustainable and better shared future. To make a difference in people's lives, communities and our planet by doing business the right way,” he said.
Water is not only a key raw material in beverage manufacturing processes but is also heavily used through the operation process in various ways.