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BW Businessworld

Maria Mutagamba

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What does sustainable development mean to you?
Sustainable development means being able to continuing what we're doing now even for the generations to come. I want to make sure that I manage the water and other natural resources of my country in such a way that we who are there can prosper and that the same time future generations can do the same. Right now, we're having many levels of industries and in doing so, we appreciate the natural resource base because that's what we're going to be using. But on the other hand, I find it a bit difficult to control industries the majority of whom prefer to go to wetlands thinking that it is wasteland. That is the biggest fight I have. The different stakeholders like the civil society and government are trying to make sure that the industries understand these conservation efforts so that we can utilise the space available for the industries in a way that doesn't jeopardise the ecosystem. On the other hand, the industries are also helping us promote production and income for the people. We are looking at education which has so far been towards white collar jobs.  But we've realised that we also need skills development. So we have introduced a special program which is towards business oriented technical skills development. We now have such technical schools in all levels of districts so that they are able to add value. That is a new concept of sustainable development.

Any areas you're most focusing on in terms in this regard?
One of the areas we're looking at appropriate technology for water development like rain water harvesting. That is something that we want to spread. We are negotiating with investors to come in and give us technologies for harvesting and water treatment that can be used at the local. We have a lot of rain but drinking water is an issue. We've also got other resources like minerals, gold and oil. We have big reserves of oil but that is also an environmental concern as well as for econ development.