A few weeks backs, as I moved around some different parts of the central region conducting a research about the performance of various agricultural sectors, I discovered that one of the factors that hindered their production was changing climatic patterns, and like most of the other people always do, they were also calling for “government support” over this problem. In my mind, I felt this was not the complete solution that was going to help bring the problem to an end. One of the immediate thing these farmers would think of, is irrigation. Recent media reports over the prolonged drought in many parts of the country such as Luwero, Isingiro, Hoima and the Northern part of Uganda indicate that this drought is a result of abusing the environment. We have watched news and read all over social media how the President actively participated in irrigating crops on a farm in Luwero. This was a way of promoting the irrigation system.
Adaptation to climate change is a challenge to all countries. Some other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Canada, are ahead by the United States in planning for climate change impacts, and their experiences provide valuable lessons for U.S. policymakers. In the 1992 Un Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States and other developed countries committed generally to help “particularly vulnerable” countries adapt to climate change. In coming decades, adaptation in developing countries is estimated to require tens of billions of dollars annually. To date, $279 million in multilateral support has been pledged. Additional funds are now being generated through a levy on emissions credits generated through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Under the Bali Roadmap, which launched talks on a post-2012 international climate agreement, stronger adaptation support is one of the core issues to be negotiated. Recently Ugandan youth represented Uganda in Marrakeh in the United Nations Climate Conference which was organised to find solutions to the global climatic change.
Natural resources constitute the primary source of livelihood for the majority of Ugandans and the economy of Uganda depends on exploiting its natural resources. Management of these natural resources is therefore important and critical to Uganda’s long-term development. Climate is a key determinant of the status of Uganda’s natural resources, such as agriculture, forestry, water resources, wildlife and others to mention but a few. However, climate change, which has started manifesting itself through intense and frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, landslides, and heat waves, is posing a serious threat to the country’s natural resources, and social and economic development. They are generally more vulnerable to climate change by virtue of being at lower latitudes, where impacts such as increased disease and extreme heat and drought will be more pronounced, and because their economies are more dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fishing, and tourism.
In our environment today, climatic change is mainly brought about by severe land degradation, which is also as a result of man’s activities which include: conversion of forests (deforestation), woodlands and bush lands into agricultural grounds, overgrazing and over exploitation of natural resources. All these expose the unprotected soils to extreme conditions and straining the capacity of existing land management practices to maintain resource quality, thus contributing to de-vegetation, soil erosion, depletion of organic matter and other forms of degradation, which in turn leads to climatic change.
The results of this climatic change include drought, famine, floods and devastating landslides. These have had a great impact on both human health and the environment. For example: the people that were killed by landslides in Bududa -Eastern Uganda. Several other people in Kabale district were buried by mud. Prolonged dry spells and dry storms have also greatly contributed to food insecurity, which is the biggest challenge faced by most people all around the world.
Frequent and prolonged droughts plus dry spells interspersed within the rainy season can have serious impacts on the livelihoods of our environment. Drought is cited as the most dominant and widespread impact of climate change in Uganda, more pronounced and severe in most parts of our country. The table below summarizes the impacts of climatic change and their immediate mechanisms:
While governments at all levels must begin acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some degree of climate change is already inevitable. Climatic changes are happening now and are projected to increase in both frequency and severity before the benefits of emission reductions will be realized. Although mitigation is critical in addressing climate change, the need for both adaptation planning and action is also critical.
We all have a role to play in assessing the climate vulnerability of both natural and man-made systems, and taking action to help these systems adapt, and the following are some of the roles:
- Promoting and encouraging increased agricultural production and diversification and improved post-harvest handling, storage and value addition in order to improve food security and increase household incomes
- Promoting and encouraging highly adaptive and productive crop varieties and cultivars in drought-prone, flood-prone and rain-fed crop farming systems
- Promoting sustainable management of rangelands and pastures through integrated rangeland management to avoid land degradation and deforestation
In conclusion, citizens and public and private entities can all contribute toward a common goal of averting dangerous climate risk and adequately preparing for those changes that are already unavoidable. Therefore, let us conserve our environment. Let us keep it green by planting more trees, practicing agro forestry and establishing soil and water conservation. Through this, we shall be in position to improve on climatic change thus providing as solution to food insecurity and the socio economic development of our environment.
By Mackline Ampurira
Mackline recently joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira