The Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) program of Environmental Alert (EA) comprises of policy and practice change engagements towards improved livelihood of natural resource dependent communities through sustainable management of the natural resource base and support for community climate change adaptation. The ENR programme component has been evolving over the years with new intervention areas such as climate change emerging at local, national and international levels. The climate change component has been added not only because of its global attention but also based on reality scenarios in the country. The programme is largely funded by Oxfam Novib. Other partners including: FAO, CARE-Uganda, WWF-UCO and IUCN-Uganda are funding short term partnership project engagements.
EA’s ENR programme component is part of the bigger new three year Programme (2012 -2015) for the organisation with an overall objective of: “enhancing capacities of rural poor communities to attain sustainable livelihoods and to adapt to climate change through economically viable, socially acceptable and ecologically sound agriculture and natural resources management practices.”
The main focus for the ENR programme is lobbying and advocacy for enabling policy frameworks and practice in environment and natural resources management including:
- Land and Land use,
- Forests, Wetlands,
- Waste management
- Climate change
guided by the following specific objectives achievable by 2015:
1. Increased multi-stakeholder awareness about sustainable natural resources management at local and national levels;
Target: 1,200 farmers, 200 CSOs and 50 learning institutions, 20 Local governments and 50 Central government Technocrats
2. Sustainable natural resources management best practices promoted and up scaled for improved household incomes and livelihoods; Target: 1,200 farmers
3. Relevant ENR policies and programmes influenced at local and national levels for sustainable ENR management and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Target: 20 Local governments and 50 Central government Technocrats
The ENR program component targets to address the following issues among others:
1. Climate change and associated impacts and vulnerabilities on livelihoods - Climate change manifesting as prolonged droughts, unreliable rainfall patterns and floods exerts more pressure on the natural resources and has implications to livelihoods of the impoverished citizens but also the country’s economy, which directly and indirectly depends on rain-fed agriculture. Affected communities have limited capacity to mitigate let alone adapt to impacts of climate change. There is inadequate access to information (in relation to weather and climate, environmental rights, policies and laws) by the communities, thereby limiting their preparedness for adaptation and coping mechanisms to climate change. Additionally, there is limited knowledge and varied understanding of climate change issues and their implications to livelihood and economic development among different stakeholders at various levels;
2. Deforestation and natural resources degradation - in the latest report of a study undertaken by the National Biomass Study (NBS) Unit of NFA (2008), Uganda’s forest cover has reduced to 17% of total land area (15% of total area of the country) between 1990 and 2005. It should however be noted that most of the degradation has been on private forests, which constitute 64% of Uganda’s forest cover. The main causes of this reduction include clearance for agriculture, uncontrolled charcoal production, uncontrolled timber extraction and overgrazing. These activities have been exacerbated by high rates of population increase and a growing economy whose main engine is natural resources (Environmental Alert, 2008);
3. Acute land degradation particularly soil fertility depletion is a major constraint to agricultural production resulting in food insecurity. This is due to nutrient mining (continuous crop harvest) without due replenishment and uncontrolled soil erosion, unregulated bush burning and crop residues among others (NEMA, 2001; Olson et al., 2003). It is exacerbated by limited knowledge of sustainable land use and soil management practices among the farming communities. Furthermore, there is lack of policy and legislative policy frameworks at national and local levels to guide sustainable land use and management in the country;
4. Poor waste management poses great health risks and environmental degradation yet properly managed waste is wealth and consequently improves livelihoods and has potential to contribute to national development. Despite this, policies, laws, guidelines and practices for waste management in Uganda are still inadequate;
5. Rampant and increased encroachment of wetlands resources in the country resulting in degradation thus undermining the ecosystem services and products from wetlands resources for sustainable development and improved livelihood.
Broad strategies for Program implementation:
The following key strategies are used towards achievement of the anticipated targets of the program:
• Initiating and strengthening partnership with existing like-minded institutions. This adds value interns of sustainability of the interventions and up scaling of lessons and experiences; Key partners include: Uganda Forestry Working Group (UFWG), Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), The ENRCSO network, IUCN-Uganda, WWF-Uganda, NGO-Forum and The National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO) among others.
• Strengthening capacities of key stakeholders (including smallholder farmers, community based organizations, and, local government) regarding sustainable natural resources management basic skills and knowledge to inform policy planning and implementation as well as enhance participation and informed decision making.
• Experiential learning and mentoring approaches to capacity building. In some cases as may be appropriate, community grants mainly in form of farm inputs are extended to natural resources dependent communities to access demonstrate appropriate technologies for sustainable natural resources management;
• Evidence based advocacy- this involves action research and modeling best practices in natural resource management with communities. The lessons and experiences generated are used to inform lobbying and advocacy engagements at local and national levels;
• Networking with key stakeholders and like-minded partners on issues of environment, natural resources and climate change. This provides opportunity for sharing and exchanging information thus facilitating up scaling of best practices and innovations in natural resources management;
• Community empowerment activities across the different program sites, farmer groups are formed at community level, trained, mentored and supported on a regular basis to effectively engage their leaders on issues affecting them with particular focus on natural resources management;
• Lobbying and advocacy to influence natural resource management based policies, legislation, strategies, plans, budgets, and programmes at both formulation and implementation stages at local, national and international levels.
• Multimedia engagements to increase public awareness for sustainable natural resources management and its linkages to livelihood and social economic development.
EA’s strategic roles and responsibilities in the ENR sector in Uganda
EA has the following strategic roles and responsibilities in the ENR sector:
• Secretariat of the Uganda Forest Working Group (UFWG), a net work of civil society, academic and research institutions engaged in the development and sustainability of the forestry sector in Uganda. In this respect, EA has facilitated various initiatives on forestry and climate change issues;
• A member of the National REDD+ Steering Committee as a CSO representative and National REDD+ Working Group. A member of Uganda Land Alliance,
• Uganda Forestry Working Group (UFWG), Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), The ENRCSO network, IUCN-Uganda, WWF-Uganda, NGO-Forum, The National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO) and Nile Basin Discourse Forum among others.
• A representative of Civil Society Organizations to the ENR sector working group at the Ministry of Water and Environment. In order to achieve effective representation in these forums, EA facilitates and mobilizes other ENR Civil Society Organizations through the ENRCSO network to generate and synthesize critical issues in the ENR sector and promote their participation in various planning and policy making processes at National level. In 2010, Environmental Alert facilitated a consultancy to analyse budget allocations to the ENR sub sector over the last three years, from 2008. The analysis clearly showed a magnificent difference in budget allocation between ENR and other sectors with ENR sub sector getting the least allocation from the National budget. This scenario presented a multiplier effect at local government level where the sector is so impaired to achieve its targets. Environmental Alert has regularly participated by taking lead role in the Water and Environment annual budget reviews under the CSBAG network coordinated by Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE).