Uganda pledges at COP21

President visiting a city suburb in a rainy season Source: NTV
During COP 21 in Paris last year, at the Global Landscape Forum. African countries launched the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) to restore over 100 million of deforested and degraded landscapes by 2030. Uganda pledged to restore 2.5 million hectares, while Uganda Youth Go Green planning to plant 10 million trees in the next 5 years a very ambitious target.  The AFR100 is derived from the commitments made by African countries, which are also included in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that include conservation and restoration of forests. A plan by Uganda National Forestry Authority 2011/12 – 2021/22 shows that in the last 15 years 1.3 million hectares were lost, this figure is expected to increase due to a number of factors including demographic, economic, social and environmental. If only the above pledge would easily be integrated in the already set national mitigation actions, I guess COP 21 pledges were a band wagon effect as most of commitments made.

Caring for the environment is not among Ugandan government priorities, this is true for most of developing countries around the world. Climate change impacts will be adversely felt because the wellbeing of Ugandans is tightly attached on climate.  Sectors will be affected agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, transport, settlements, water, air quality and health.  The national mitigation action plan only caters for agriculture, energy, water and transport.  The national adaptation programme of action is in its pilot stage aimed at responding to short term needs. With the poorly mainstreamed climate change issues at the national level, plans are only on paper, give little acknowledgment to the effects of climate variability and little is done to promote actions to support adaptive capacity. Priority is given to the five national priority programme areas which include education, health, water, transport and agriculture.

If funds are made available through the AFR100 Initiative there is fear of being diverted to the priority programme areas and this has happened before.  Sometimes they are grossly mismanaged by officials like many Initiatives in the past. This has been the case in Uganda and many programmes in developing countries have taken the same path, if channeled through governments.  NGOs in the past have offered a safe bet to channel funds but they have not been flawless.  Programmes have been able to reach the people who need them, though it has been up – bottom approach, communities have had issues with this because they lacked their input.  Uganda parliament passed the NGO bill in December 2015 that would limit NGOs activities in Uganda, organizations that deal in issues of controversy like LGBT, Advocacy, land grabbing, environment e.t.c their survival is limited.  The bill proposes that all funds to NGOs be channeled through the Bank of Uganda (Government), which is highlighted above as one of the reasons government handled initiatives have failed in the past. 

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


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