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Putting CPAR Uganda’s environmentally friendly policies in practice

Environmentally friendly bags

The CPAR Uganda Financial Year starts on the first day of April and ends on the last day of March. On Monday, 10th August 2015, as the Managing Director for CPAR Uganda, I delivered to our external auditors – a reputable firm that adheres to international auditing standards – for external auditing our books of accounts and financial records for our financial year ended 31st March 2015.

Yes, it seems like we are the first organisation ever to deliver to our auditor’s books of accounts – box files of vouchers and of reports – in environmentally friendly kikapus – bags made out of dry palm leaves. I deduce this from the manner in which our auditors already begun to identify us as the ones who brought their records in kikapus. In some circles in Uganda – particularly among Ugandans who are culturally dislocated – it is ‘classlessness’ for one to carry in a kikapu books of accounts and financial records of an organisation of high repute, such as CPAR Uganda http://www.cparuganda.com/.

I do not mind being referred to as the ‘one who brought financial records in a kikapu’. I buy into the philosophy of Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathaai (RIP) of everyone doing their little things. Every little bit counts – we will only overcome environmental pollution if we do our little bits. My little bit is to reduce on my use of non-bio-degradable materials.

Into the pre-audit meeting, I clarified to our auditors that the cost savings we had made were not necessarily because of poor performance, for example, such as non-implementation of activities. I explained that one of the ways in which we saved costs, for example, was by re-using/recycling paper. We have loads and loads of paper that is printed on one side, so we took the decision, for example, to print our accounting forms on such paper as opposed to buying fresh paper.

Put in the context of Uganda – the Government of Uganda (GOU) has created for itself an unnecessary dilemma on the issue of saving our environment from plastic waste. After such a long struggle by environmental advocates for the GOU to ban the use of polythene bags as shopping bags, early this year we celebrated when the ban came through https://nowaraga.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/overcoming-the-curse-of-ploythene-bags-in-uganda/. But a few months into phasing in the ban, the GOU seems to have bowed to pressure from ‘investors’ who care less about our environment but more about their own economic bottom line. Take for instance these complaints from ‘investors’:

We are in a dilemma because on the one hand we have been told to invest in recycling capacity and appeal for amendment of the law to accommodate those efforts, and on the other we now see NEMA ordering a ban without considering the fact there is a process in progress to harmonise the law with the reality on the ground,” complains Mr Naim Sabra, treasurer of plastics industry lobby the Uganda Plastic Manufacturers and Recyclers Association (UMPRA). We have established a plastic waste value chain that people are now fighting for plastic waste so much that it is now difficult for recyclers to find enough, he adds.” http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Uganda-in-plastic-bag-ban-dilemma/-/2558/2683982/-/14m0fh4/-/index.html

So in Mr. Sabra’s logic, the GOU should allow the continued production of environmentally dangerous material just so that he can recycle it or what? Sadly, it seems the GOU of Uganda seemed swayed to agree with Mr. Sabra?