Environment, Natural Resources and Climate change

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The Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change program comprises of Environmental Alert (EA) 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. Particularly, it has program clusters with earmarked activities towards improved community livelihood, sustainable utilization of natural resources and facilitating community climate change adaptation and mitigation actions in agriculture and natural resources management. The program focuses on the sustainable management of natural resources including Land and Land use, Soils, Forests, Wetlands, Water and Climate.

This program component is part of the bigger three years EA Program with an overall objective of, ‘enhancing livelihoods of natural resource dependent communities with local adaptive capacity to effects climate change while sustaining the natural resource base by 2011.’  The related specific objectives of the EA Program include the following:  

  1. To promote appropriate and adaptive responses to effects of climate change among targeted men, women and youth in Tororo, Sironko Moyo, Adjmumani, Yumbe, Wakiso, Mubende and Kyenjojo and other stake holders;

  2. To promote Sustainable natural resource management practices and innovations among selected natural resource dependent households, private sector institutions, in Wakiso, Mubende, Kyenjojo, West Nile, Tororo by 2011;

  3. To influence policy, local and national planning processes and budgets for effective Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) management and climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

This program component targets to address the following Issues among others:

  1. Climate change and associated impacts on livelihoods - Climate change manifesting as prolonged droughts, unreliable rainfall patterns and floods exerts more pressure on the natural resources and has implications to the Ugandan economy, which largely depends on rain-fed agriculture which is more vulnerable to climatic variability. Affected communities have limited capacity to adapt and mitigate the 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. Substantive portion of forests on private land are located in Mubende and Kyenjojo districts, hence they have a total forested area approximating to 246,741 hectares of which 178,569 hectares is outside the protected forest reserves. Of the total outside protected areas, 123,127 hectares occur in Mubende and 55,542 hectares in Kyenjojo (Forest Department, 2003) and all this falls under individual and privately owned forests. 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 and disposal – for instance in Kampala alone approximately, 15000 tons of waste are generated per day. Of this only 45% is collected and disposed off in the landfill (KCC, 2008). This leaves 51% uncollected ending up in drainage channels, dumped on streets and wetlands (UNDP, 2005). 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 will add value interns of sustainability of the interventions and up scaling of lessons and experiences;

  • Strengthening capacities of key stakeholders (including such as smallholder farmers, community based organizations, district based non-governmental organizations, local government) regarding sustainable natural resources management and basic skills and knowledge for engaging key policy makers and decision makers. This is done through participatory and interactive process

  • Experiential learning and mentoring approaches to capacity building will be explored. In some cases as may be appropriate, community grants will be extended to natural resources dependent communities to access appropriate technologies for sustainable natural resources management; Evidence based advocacy- this would involve action research and modeling best practices in natural resource management with communities. The lessons and experiences generated are used to inform lobbying and advocacy 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, issue groups will be formed at community level, these will be trained, mentored and supported on a regular basis to effectively engage their leaders on issues affecting them;

  • Advocate and Influencing natural resources policies, legislation, strategies, plans, budgets, and programs at both formulation and implementation stages at various levels (local, national and international).

 

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 (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) working Group and through this group it has coordinated the expanded consultations on REDD plus;

  • A member of Uganda Land Alliance, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group and Nile Basin Discourse Forum

  • A representative of Civil Society Organizations on the National Policy Committee on REDD and 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 to generate and synthesize critical issues in the ENR sector and promote their participation in various planning and policy making processes at National level (e.g. annual joint sector review, national planning and budgeting cycles) and local level (e.g. local government planning and budgeting cycles).

 

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