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East Africa's first national faith eco network launches in Uganda

October 30, 2013:

Growing eggplants as part of Gomba Women's Environment Project

The first network of Uganda faith groups working on the environment and promoting sustainable agriculture will be launched in Kampala today. This is a extremely significant landmark in helping a substantial percentage of the country engage in addressing the environment crisis.

The launch of the Uganda Faiths Network on Environment Action (UFNEA) is an exciting step in engaging the biggest element of civil society in Uganda – the faiths – to take environmental action, said Susie Weldon of ARC, which worked with Ugandan Christian and Muslim organisations to organise this new body - part of ARC's Africa Programme -

“It’s part of an extraordinary new environmental movement of faith groups in sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.

“We expect that other national networks will follow but UFNEA will take a lead in East Africa in showing how faith groups can inspire their communities and work closely with government and other agencies to improve people’s lives and protect the environment at the same time.”

This network has a huge potential to improve people’s lives: two of the initiatives it is championing are Farming God’s Way and Farming in Allah's Way which can not only involve farming that is cheaper for farmers, but also create bigger, healthier crops, through an approach that imagines God/Allah as the First Farmer. Read more here in ARC's inspiring blog post.

The movement for faith groups to take active leadership roles in addressing environmental challenges is growing. In September 2012, at a major meeting organised by ARC in Nairobi, Kenya, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, UNEP Director and Regional Representative for Africa, called it “potentially transformative,” pledging to put more UNEP energy into working with the faiths

At the same meeting, Dr Ali Mohamed, Permanent Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, described the movement as “A new awakening that will help shape beliefs, behaviour and actions for a greener and better Africa.’

Tree planting is a major element of faith action
Last year 27 Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith groups launched long-term action plans on the environment in Nairobi, Kenya, at ARC’s Many Heavens, One Earth, Our Continent celebration. UFNEA is the first national faith environmental network to arise out of that movement.

The vision is to inspire faith groups in Uganda to strengthen awareness and action on the environment and sustainable agriculture, said UFNEA founding chair Muguluma Hamed who is also executive director of Muslim NGO Humanitarian Efforts and Relief Uganda.

“Environmental degradation and climate change are no doubt the biggest threat to humanity in this era,” he will tell delegates at today’s launch. “According to Uganda’s National Forestry Authority, Uganda loses 92,000 hectares of forest cover every year which is almost the size of Uganda’s biggest forest, Mabira. This is alarming.

“UFNEA is aware that there are a number of efforts, both local and global, aimed at addressing these issues but a lot remains to be done. This is why faith organisations and faith-based organisations have decided to join their efforts using a faith approach to address these challenges. This explains the birth of the Uganda Faiths Network on Environmental Action.”

One of UFNEA’s missions is to promote care of the environment as a religious responsibility. Committee member Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa, of the Anglican Church of Uganda’s Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese, explained: “Creation is God’s concern priority number one and when He gave us the mandate to be caretakers of that creation, we are only doing what God expects us to do.

“The Bible tells us in Genesis that God worked on creation for five days and spent only one day on humans. Therefore the creation of this Network is a good demonstration that the faith groups in Uganda are taking God’s assignment seriously.”

The Uganda Faiths Network on Environment Action (UFNEA) has been established with support from ARC through an initiative funded by the World Bank via its TerrAfrica partnership. It is open to all registered Ugandan faith groups and faith-based organisations engaged in environmental action and awareness activities.

Notes for editors

In September 2012, 27 Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith communities launched long-term action plans on the environment at the ‘Many Heavens, One Earth: African Faith Commitments for a Living Planet’ celebration in Nairobi, Kenya. Between them, the 27 faith groups reach out to around 184 million people in 11 countries. More information from this page or visit the ARC website.

About UFNEA

UFNEA’s key aims and objectives are:

a. To encourage greater environmental awareness and action by faith groups and faith-based organisations in Uganda.
b. To promote care of the environment as a religious responsibility.
c. To promote sustainable agriculture and development to improve people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.
d. To share experience and best practice on environmental action, sustainable agriculture and development.
e. To build partnerships, coalitions and links with grassroots groups, governmental and non-governmental organisations on environmental issues.
f. To support each other on environmental concerns and struggles.
g. To carry out capacity building through learning and training members.
h. To disseminate information and materials in additon to advocacy and public awareness.

Members of UFNEA founding committee:

• Muguluma Hamed (chair) – Humanitarian Efforts and Relief Uganda (HEAR Uganda)
• Sara Kaweesa (secretary) – A Rocha Uganda
• Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa – Church of Uganda/Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese
• Omuruga Godfrey – Inter-Religious Council of Uganda
• Matovu Isa – Uganda Muslim Teacher’s Association
• Dr. Kenneth Mukalazi – Christian Development Association of Uganda
• Immam Iddi Kasozi – Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly
• Hajjat Sebyala Aphwa – Energizing Solutions Ltd
• Fr. Lucian Arianitwe – Uganda Catholic Secretariat
• Aguti Betty Rose – Caritas Uganda

Pictures:

More pictures can be located from this page of ARC's Flickr Account.

CONTACT

For further information please email arcworld@arcworld.org or call 01225 758004

LINKS

Read ARC’s inspiring blog about the benefits of the faith approach to sustainable agriculture – not just cheaper farming without chemical fertilisers but much healthier crops.

ARC Africa programmes

PICTURES (free to use with credit to ARC)

Farming God’s Way

Farming in Allah's Way



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