Michael Segwaya, the Absa Bank Uganda’s Executive Director and Chief Finance Officer on Saturday morning flagged off a large field of runners for the Kampala – Jinja Relay. The 80km event was organized by Kampala Hash House Harriers and Absa Bank and it attracted over 500 amateur runners from various running clubs and individual runners.
In the final phase of the relay, participants and organizers planted twenty ceremonial trees ( in Najjembe) in preparation for a wider exercise to plant 10,000 trees in the degraded parts of Mabira Forest in partnership with the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
“We are always on the lookout for opportunities to positively impact our natural environment, and this is why we are running for the environment, to actively contribute to the regreening of the magnificent Mabira forest and to be able to do while encouraging the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle while doing some sightseeing is a double honour for us,” Absa’s Segwaya said.
Wilbert Ikilai, the Manager for Environment Education and Advocacy at NEMA, is happy with the initiative noting that; “We applaud private citizens and businesses like the Kampala Hash Harriers and Absa Bank Uganda for finding unique ways to demonstrate their commitment to protecting and preserving Uganda’s precious green cover. Through more initiatives like this, we can restore the environment. Partnerships are the way to go to ensure sustainable conservation of forests and natural resources in Uganda. I call upon all stakeholders including local governments, education institutions, the civil society, and others to join in the cause of reforestation and restoration of the environment in Uganda.”
The event themed “Run for the Environment,” started at 6: 30 a.m at the Kira Division Headquarters with 25 teams of 9 runners each taking part. Runners passed the baton to their next team members after completing a 10km leg between Kampala and Jinja.
The first stage was in Kiyunga, Mukono, second stage was in Kibiribiri, Mukono, third stage was in Nakifuma, Mukono while there were several stages at Mehta Sugar plantation in Lugazi and the one at Najjembe Municipality headquarters. There stopovers were filled with music and free flowing drinks. Community members from the aforementioned areas received items from the relay organizers.
Price David Wasajja who is a renowned running enthusiast was part of the relay and he lauded Absa Bank for the initiative but also urged Ugandans to preserve the environment and also strive for healthy lifestyles.
“This is a very good initiative as it tackles many issues. The theme itself calls upon all of us to preserve our environment. However, activities like this promote healthy lifestyles but are also good avenues for socializing,” Price David Wasajja said.
According to the World Economic Forum, conserving and restoring degraded forest landscapes is essential to combating global climate change and preventing biodiversity loss, which greatly bolsters Uganda’s lucrative tourism industry.
Additionally, ‘The State of the Climate in Africa 2021’ report states that while Africa accounts for only about two to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it suffers disproportionately from it and that extreme weather and climate change are undermining human health and safety, food and water security, and socioeconomic development.
Meanwhile, after partnering with Kampala Hash House Harriers earlier this year, Absa Bank has been able to undertake a number of activities as part of their community promise to be a force for good, the first of which was the Absa KH3 – 7 Hills run held in May, in support of education initiatives for the girl-child.