Over 500 amateur runners participated in the Kampala – Jinja 79.76km Relay, organised by the Kampala Hash House Harriers and Absa Bank Uganda.
The relay, which kicked off at the Kira Division Headquarters at 6: 30 am on Saturday, saw over 25 teams of 9 runners each take part, with runners passing the baton to their next team members after completing a 10km leg between Kampala and Jinja.
Held under the theme “Run for the Environment”, the core component of the relay was to make a stopover at Najjembe District Headquarters, where they planted twenty ceremonial trees in preparation for a wider exercise to plant 10,000 trees in Mabira Forest in partnership with the National Forestry Authority 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.”Michael Segwaya, Absa Bank Uganda’s Executive Director and Chief Finance Officer, said while flagging off the runners.
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’ reportstates 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.
Mr Wilbert Ikilai, the Manager for Environment Education and Advocacy at NEMA, said, “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’’
Global Forest Watch – an online platform that provides data and tools for monitoring forests through technology – reported that from 2002 to 2022, Uganda lost 75.0kha of humid primary forest, making up 7.5% of its total tree cover loss in the same period and that the total area of humid primary forest in Uganda decreased by 15% in this period.
While addressing the media following the run, Leonard Mugizi, the Kampala Hash House Harriers Master, said, “We appreciate Absa for coming on board once again for one of our exciting excursions and tying it to another positive cause. As the Hashers, we take immense pride in the fact that we constantly use our passion for living an active lifestyle to do good for this nation.”
Earlier this year, Absa Bank Uganda signed a three-year agreement with the Kampala Hash House Harriers to undertake a number of activities as part of Absa’s 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.