Limits to climate adaptation in Uganda

Projections for sea-level rise above present-day levels (ocean – left) and warming compared to present-day extremes (land – right) for 2100. A 2°C warming scenario is shown on the left; a 4C warming scenario is shown on the right. Source: PIK

Uganda has two rainfall seasons, the first one in March and June characterized by more intense rains, the second one is from October to January with lighter rains, and this behavior is influenced by the El Nino and La Nina trend in the Indian Ocean (LTS International, 2008). There has been severe weather situations recorded in 1961/62, 1997/98, 2007(rains) and 1993/94 (drought). Reports suggest that Uganda will become wetter and by 2080 temperatures will increase by 4.3 degrees Celsius (Ministry of Water and Environment, 2007). There is a National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) which coordinates all activities locally and nationally, a list of the most important sectors affected by climate change which include the following: Water, Tourism, Health, freshwater fisheries, Agricultural food production, Cities, and Energy.
Uganda is facing a problem of access to safe drinking water, a problem that has hit the whole country even the urban areas. Climate change has led to the few water wells drying up, and those with water have been made dirty for human consumption and polluted for even animals by the run offs. A lot can be done including sustainable use of ground water, increased water storage like reservoirs and rainwater harvesting. Sudan in its NAPA is proposing a 3 year project estimated at $0.75m for water harvesting. The limits to the above climate change adaptation strategies include lack of funding, lack of technical personnel to implement the above projects, and cultural beliefs.
Uganda has benefitted from the booming tourism industry. In recent years over 101 million jobs have been created worldwide (WTTC Economic Impact Report, 2013) and revenue have been realized. Tourism is directly linked to natural resources that are vulnerable to climate change[1]. The United Nations Tourism Organization report recommended programmes to monitor scientifically the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, and introduce protected areas for endangered species. The challenge to the above strategies is lack of funding and tourism is not a priority area as much it supports the national budgets in many countries, the Government of Uganda sees no need now.
Climate change no doubt will affect human health, and WHO has been at the forefront of assessing and developing tools to curb the impacts. It identifies the development of early warning systems of floods, regulation for controlling water and vector borne diseases, and installation of infectious disease surveillance, the above strategies have been integrated into NAPAs. Countries including Central African Republic and Togo are implementing projects aimed at preventing water and vector borne diseases in rural areas, there are using awareness drives and capacity building. It’s a 3 year project estimated to cost $0.5million (Central African Republic) and $2 million (Togo). Uganda has not rolled out a national project, it only has area based projects responding to disasters like the Bududu landslides and Soroti floods, lack of funds is a major limit and corruption.
Agricultural food production
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda, where over 80% of the population are engaged in the sector contributing about 37% to GDP. Climate change in agriculture is a double edged sword high precipitation will mean crops rotting in the ground and disruption of transport system, while high temperatures especially in cereals do not permit protein production, leading to undernourishment especially in children. About 239 million people in Africa between 2010 and 2012 were undernourished approximately 23% of the total population. Irrigation, use of drought resistant species, diversification and modernization of agriculture are being implementation through National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADs) in Uganda. Chad is implementing a 3 year project estimated at $1.8  million, which will include development of irrigation systems and reforestation to protect water systems in drought seasons. NAADs the government organ handling the implementation of the above strategies is marred with corruption and political influence.
Freshwater fisheries
Fish remains one of the highest and easy to access of proteins in Africa, there is a great need to adopt measures that will see increase in fish production and reducing pressure on certain species. The fisheries sector is proposing fishing holidays that will see fishermen restraining from fishing for some months. The introduction of fish farming that is being piloted by Chinese and some few private investors. A study shows at 2°C warming scenario global population fish demand can be sustained through 2050. Gambia has a 3 year project using aquaculture and post-harvest fishery product conservation at an estimated cost of $3million. It’s difficult to implement and enforcing fish holidays, aquaculture is expensive initially fisher folks cannot afford them. The environmental issues concerning fish farming in Uganda and the world, is not helping its promotion.
As a developing country, Uganda’s energy prospects are important to its development if released, climate change has proved to halt them. Frequent droughts and extreme rainfall is affecting electricity (energy) production. The World Bank is proposing renewable energy investment which don’t depend on water resources, and also using energy efficient structures to reduce on the demand. Elsewhere in Africa projects that use other sources of energy like wind, biogas, solar are being proposed. Rwanda’s solar project is producing 8.5 MW which is valued at $23.7 million[2]. These projects require a lot of capital, which is the main limitation and corruption.
Cities are host to around 40% by 2011, projections estimate that about 860 million people of the population by 2035 will be staying in cities (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2012). Coastal flooding is envisaged to be one of the climate change induced threats. Dykes, wave breakers, seawalls, urban food storage, urban agriculture, energy efficient buildings and urban planning. Liberia has come up with a NAPA that includes coastal protection in Monrovia and Buchanan estimated at $60 million, where a groyne system in Monrovia, and in Buchanan a breakwater system.  Uganda is facing lack of funds, corruption, and substandard work. I guess you have noticed lack of funds is crosscutting in all the sectors, it’s the same case in all adapting developing nations around the world. This December in Paris history may be made as 2/3 of the financial ($100 billion) pledges made by businesses and rich countries has been provided (The guardian, 7th October, 2015).

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 


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