COMMENT | JOHN OKIIRA | Climate change remains one of the leading causes of devastation to our environment, accounting for a range of natural disasters and varying forms of vulnerabilities.
From the shocks caused by the landslides in Bududa and Bundibugyo to the floods in Kasese and the rising levels of Lake Victoria in the southern region of the country, the phenomenon has left many communities devastated and vulnerable to hunger and disease. Besides, the locust infestation in Northern Uganda and the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered the country to face a crisis within a crisis.
Today, Uganda is one of the countries experiencing frequent and prolonged droughts; reduced erratic and unpredictable rainfall which are valiantly affecting agriculture production and food security. These climate change disasters have affected the economy generally but also greatly impacted on women, youth and refugees; among other highly vulnerable individuals and communities.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the devastation of many nations; leaving many people dead and others highly vulnerable to hunger and poverty. Many people especially those employed in the informal sector have lost their jobs and livelihoods. The majority are now resorting to natural resources-based activities for survival.
According to National Development Plan III, climate change mitigation and environment management are critical to the achievement of increased household incomes and improvement of quality of life of the population.
Sufficient precipitation occasioned by maintaining and/or increasing forest and wetland cover is vital for hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, wildlife and ecosystems.
Proper wetland management is necessary to mitigate flood risks, maintenance of aquatic ecosystem, and access to fresh water. Environment preservation is also critical for human health and tourism. In addition, mitigating the climate change orchestrated impact of droughts, floods, heat waves and landslides on the livelihood of vulnerable populations is critical for reducing income inequality.
The Ministry of Water and Environment and the National Planning Authority developed guidelines for integration of climate change into district development plans, budgets and programs but these are yet to be revised to bring in the new thinking of National Development Plan III. The need for the integration of climate change is important due to the fact that impacts of climate variability and change and climate policy responses, and associated socioeconomic development have an effect on the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development goals.
Successful implementation of those goals will in turn affect the opportunities for, and success of, climate change policies nationally and globally.
Kyenjojo district in Western Uganda has successfully responded to the call of mainstreaming climate change into district development plan hence becoming a role model for other such administrative units in the country.
Richard Businge, former district Planner for Kyenjojo district during the National Climate Resilience Dialogue organized by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment on 15th October, 2020 at Imperial Royale hotel, Kampala noted that now climate change is used as a contractual obligation for all contracts awarded in the district such as road construction, school and health facility construction.
Businge supplemented that all contracts awarded to contractors in the district have a component of climate change such as tree planting among other activities.
He however noted that climate change is real and hence must be taken with utmost importance by all stakeholders so that the current and the future generation don’t regret and suffer consequences of its negative effects. It is up to us to adhere and change our mind-set towards climate changes integration, Businge concluded.
John Okiira, Research Associate
Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment(ACODE)