My name is Dorothy Nalubega aged 42 years. I work with Wakiso District Local Government in Uganda as the Personal Secretary to the Wakiso District Chairperson-the Political Head of the District. Besides, I am an Environmental Activist and I work with Rangelands and Cattle Corridor conservation Network as the Environment and sustainability team leader (www.rangelands.org).I live and work in the Central region of Uganda; in Wakiso and Kampala District.
I am an active environmental activist because; (a) I love nature (b) I know the dangers of environmental degradation/climate change effects and how they impact on people (c) I am a Green Politician and one of our Green Ideologies involves environmental protection.
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate. It is one of six African states that lies on the equator.
Besides the ever green nature of Uganda’s country sides, Uganda has the most hospitable atmosphere compared to her neighbors because the people are so welcoming.The World’s longest River (The Nile) traces her source in the Lake Victoria in Jinja in Eastern Uganda.
Geography: (climate, Landscape, environment)
Uganda’s climate is tropical and generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to August). It is semiarid in the northeast. Straddling the equator, there is little year-round fluctuation in temperature and no real winter or summer. The hottest months are January and February when the average daytime range is 24-33°C (52-91°F) with peaks of up to 40°C/104°F in the far north. The south has two Wet seasons: from mid-September to November and March to May. The Dry season from December to February means only that it rains less and the gorilla parks remain fairly wet during these months. The second Dry season – from June and July – is considerably drier. Still, with 1,000 to 2,000mm (39.4-78.7in) of rain every year, it can rain at almost any time. The north, including Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, has one continuous Wet season from March to November and a more obvious Dry season from December to February.
total: 241,551 square kilometres (93,263 sq mi)
land: 200,523 square kilometres (77,422 sq mi)
water: 41,028 square kilometres (15,841 sq mi)
Today, forest and woodland cover in Uganda stands at 49,000 km² or 24% of the total land area. Of these 9,242.08 km is tropical rainforest, 350.60 km² are forest plantations and 39,741.02 km is woodland. 30% of these areas are protected as national parks, wildlife reserves or central forest reserves.
History, culture/ Society:
Uganda is a multicultural society with a diverse range of ethinic groups (56 tribes) speaking about 40 languages. English and Swahili which makes it 42 languages is also widely spoken the former being the official language and the latter commonly East African language. Culture therefore varies from one ethinic group to another but for the Buganda/central region where I live, (Buganda is the Kingdom, Baganda the people and Luganda the language) the family is often described as a microcosm of the kingdom. The father is obeyed as head of the family. His decisions are generally unquestioned. A man’s social status is determined by those with whom he establishes patron/client relationships, and one of the best means of securing this relationship is through one’s children. Baganda like many other tribes in Uganda lives as an extended family.
Agriculture & economy:
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy employing approximately 69% of the population according to the 2014 Population census.
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Increase in average temperatures, change in rainfall patterns and total annual rainfall amounts are the most critical climate change issues in Uganda. The implications for the Ugandan people are significant, with a change in temperature having an effect on water resources, food security, natural resource management, human health, housing and infrastructure
The ice caps on the Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda have shrunk significantly. Changing temperature patterns in Uganda have been linked to more frequent and longer lasting droughts and consequent increased cattle death. Rainfall has decreased, become less predictable and less evenly distributed. Floods, landslides, (especially in Bududa –Eastern Uganda) droughts and other extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity. (Uganda Climate Change Policy).
The water and food security/agriculture
Change of seasons has brought a negative effect on food security in Uganda; for example in Uganda it was known that we get rains in March and the end of March we begin planting and go on through April, with little/regular rains helping the plants to grow but Uganda experienced a prolonged dry spell from March to August 2016, there was insufficient rain leading to crop failure and suppressed harvests in my region and most parts of the country, which contributed to exacerbating the already fragile food security situation of millions in Uganda. These days you can never predict seasons in Uganda. 2015 and 2016 were so dry only for first half of 2018 to have prolonged heavy rains with yet another negative impact on crops. The Government’s food security Early Warning system initially indicated that about 25 percent of the Ugandan population was experiencing severe shortage of food as a result of delayed and short lived rainfall; signaling a potential further deterioration of the affected regions’ food security situation. (National Food Security Assessment Report 2017).
Prolonged and severe droughts have led to lower water levels in rivers, underground aquifers and reservoirs affecting the hydrology, biodiversity and water supply. This affects water availability which is essential to people’s livelihoods since it is used for both domestic and productive purposes.
The life of the people
Climate change brings about high temperatures which favour the spread of some diseases and pests like grasshoppers. For humans, if the temperature changes from 300C to 320C, the way one’s body functions changes, this is a menace to health. Climate change has therefore resulted in the proliferation of diseases in some areas in Uganda that were initially disease free. For example the traditionally cooler Rwenzori region now suffers from malaria caused by mosquitoes due to increases in temperatures.
Flooding has brought about the spread of diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. An outbreak of cholera in Kampala for example, has been attributed to prolonged rainfalls.
Meanwhile the rain causes flooding, which affects transportation, housing, social services and people’s livelihoods. The 2018 prolonged rain made the roads especially in Northern and Western and Eastern Uganda impassable making it difficult for farmers to transport their farm produce for sale resulting into poverty. Floods in slums due to prolonged and Teso floods in Eastern Uganda in 2007.
Does climate change affect women differently than men and if so how?
Yes Climate change affects women differently than men; in fact the effect of climate change is felt more by women than men in the following ways;
Women’s dependence on Natural resources and agriculture
Women are more vulnerable to climate change than men since they are more dependent on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihood. climate change in my region has mainly affected the agricultural sector and yet the sector is mostly dominated by women given the fact that most women in Uganda are employed in the agricultural sector, they continue to be the most vulnerable segment of population to these changes as they bear the major responsibility for agricultural products such as food crops and cash crops. The low productivity of food due to climate change also comes with its associated problems ranging from mulnutrition for both children and mothers especially the breast feeding ones. It becomes worse for mothers living with HIV/AIDS taking antiretroviral medication when they can not have food; Some stop taking the medicines and experience disease progression and death. Recently on a local television, women and children living with AIDS confessed that they fail to take medicine because they do not have food and the medicine cannot be taken on an empty stomach.
Women’s gender roles
Because of their traditional roles in the home and as carers, women are affected more when it comes to climate change effects; women are the major food managers and producers at the household level, they are often in charge of obtaining water, firewood, and other resources for their families, but these resources are directly impacted by climate change, meaning women must travel further and work longer to access them during crisis. In some communities, young women have been subjected to sexual violence on their way to and from fetching water by unscrupulous men; In Wakiso District, (cenral region), In an interview with one Menya of community Policing in Wakiso, she said; a girl of about 17 years reported having been raped by a man on her way from the well, where they fetch water. In addition to that; there is also a high drop out of girls since children in water-stressed areas like Mubende in Western Uganda, spend most of their time lining up and fetching water in far-off places.
Climate change exacerbates extreme weather conditions such as tropical storms, heat waves, and heavy precipitation leading to flooding.Women are more likely to die as a result of such disasters and if they survive, they suffer the most from the consequences. Reasons for this disparity have been attributed to women’s lack of capacity to cope during such situations.This normally results into injuries, increased risk of various infectious diseases like cholera, dysentery, asthma and other cardio-vasicullar illnesses due to migration, overcrowding and contamination of water.
Climate change- a cause/ indirectly cause/reinforce other reasons for violent conflicts and or migration?
Deteriorating water and pasture conditions mainly in the cattle corridor have resulted in migrations of livestock keepers, reduction in livestock production and increased spread of livestock diseases. Livestock keepers have been reported to migrate from Karamoja to
Lango, Acholi, Teso and Elgon competing for pasture and water. (National food Assessment report 2017). This has caused conflict between Pastoralists and the natives.
Another group of Pastrorists known as Balalo from Western Uganda went to look for pasture and settled in Northern Uganda, grazing on residents‘ livestock in in their crop fields and grabbing their land, but when they were evicted from there, they headed to North Western Uganda and occupied virgin lands and forest reverves in Masindi bringing tension. This place has had repeated bloody fights between the indegeous Bagungu and the emigrant herdsmen. Some people killed in a bitter fight. All this is because due to climate change effects.
Climate change affects Key production sectors like agriculture, water, energy and transport. As agriculture, forestry and fisheries decline, people migrate to urban areas leading to the formation of slums, sometimes these people illegally inhabit protected areas like wetlands, conflicts arise as government bodies fight to evict them- in 2017, government tried to evict dwellers from wetlands in Lubigi near Kampala and Namanve forest in Mukono District, but they resisted through demonstrations which were not peaceful at all.
If we don’t cut the co2 emissions and the world is getting warmer than 1.5 Degree… what will happen to the region?
Uganda’s agriculture cannot thrive beyond 1.5 degrees Global warming (http:www.newvision.co.ug>new>Uganda..); dominated by small holder farmers of up to 80% and subsistence agriculture of 70% of farmers unable to access modern farming methods such as modern irrigation schemes, the country’s agricultural sector is more than any other, the most sensitive to average temperatures that has alarmed to surpass the benchmark of 1.5-degree Celsius over time. The signs of this dangerous tipping point are already visible in infesting crop diseases, seasonal animal deaths, water shortages for cattle and hindrance of farming activities because of too dry grounds to cultivate. Uganda has been listed among the countries affected by the mass animal deaths for 2017.
Any slight increase of global temperatures doesn’t only disogranise the biosphere but ruins 85% of the population who directly derive their livelihood in crop and or animal rearing.
Also if we do not cut Co2 emissions, the climate of Uganda may become wetter on average and the increase in rainfall may be unevenly distributed and occur as more extreme or more frequent periods of intense rainfall.
For example, Uganda is Africa’s leading exporter and second biggest producer of coffee after Ethiopia due to its alluvial fertile soils and cool “good” climate for coffee production. But the changes in average daily temperatures are hindering these treasures. (New Vision).
With over 70% of its foreign exchange from coffee exports, any future tampering with weather and climate will adversely affect the economy. Analysis of data from Uganda Coffee Development Centre already shows that coffee exports have declined in “real terms” since 1998.
According to Uganda Metrological Department, Uganda’s coffee has been infected by coffee berry disease but the major reason for the infestation of this coffee disease is because it thrives under high temperatures of between 26 to 40-degree Celsius.
Regardless of changes in rainfall, changes in temperature are likely to have significant implications for water resources, food security, natural resource management, human health, settlements and infrastructure. In Uganda, as for the rest of the world, there are likely to be changes in the frequency or severity of extreme climate events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. Uganda is highly vulnerable to climate change and variability – its economy and the wellbeing of its people are tightly bound to climate. (DiFID Uganda)
If we don’t cut emissions, climate change effect in my region will typically have significant gender dimensions; for example, extreme event impacts can lead to male out migration in search of work, culminating in an increase in women-headed households – a group often considered particularly vulnerable. Indeed, the effects of climate change on impoverished women and children is crucial because women and children in particular, have unequal human capabilities.
According to researchers from the University College Institute for Global Health, an increase in temperature-related illnesses and deaths related to prolonged heat waves and humidity will disproportionately affect children, the elderly, and those living in poverty. Rising global temperatures will extend seasons and increase the geographic range of vectors, specifically mosquito-borne disease such as malaria which is said to be the main killer disease in Uganda, and dengue fever exposing new populations to disease.Due to increased carbon dioxide emissions, the temperature of the lower troposphere rise with elevation. This means an increase in vector borne illnesses, diarrhea, and pshycological diseases.
Climate change will lead to Exacerbating poverty and triggering migration as well as heightened competition over strategic water resources, pasture for pastoralists hence leading to regional conflicts and insecurity.
ADAPTATION MEASURES & DEVELOPMENT
Adaptation measures and strategies necessary in my region include;
Creation of awareness
Creation of awareness should be the first step to ensure knowledge; it would be wastage of time to tell someone to take up any measure before they know why? Workshops for leaders, sensitization of masses, climate change information centres, climate change education programmes, on radios, televisions and social media should be given priority for the people to know that climate change is real, a threat to the whole country directly or indirectly and that there are measures which are everyone’s responsibility including government and the individuals themselves, when they begin to appreciate that fact then other measures can be easier.
In the picture below, which I took at one of the schools in Kampala which is in my region, whereby the school administration took a measure for climate change mitigation, they separated the waste bins such that pupils and school staff should know where to throw plastics separately, papers, and vegetables, but when you look at the picture closely, the pits are separated and marked but the users do not separate them and that is because they were not well prepared and hence don’t know why how important it is for them to separate the wastes.
Use of alternative energy
Solar energy is one of the measures that are urgent and necessary in my region as a climate change adaptation measure. It is possible in Uganda because of the availability of sun, it is almost summer almost all year round, hydro electric power which is commonly used in Uganda has become very expensive due to the effect of climate change on River nile where it is generated from, most people are so poor in my area that they cannot afford it, they therefore depend on biomass for energy using it especially for cooking, they also use fossil fuel for their lanterns which is very dangerous because these lanterns (tadooba) produce methane that is dangerous to their lives. Solar energy has been traditionally used in Uganda for drying food and clothes but now more than ever, the people of my region should be sensitised to switch to solar energy for lighting, cooking, heating and operating machines as an adaptation measure.
Government should invest in affordable and clean energy
75% of the people in Uganda live in rural areas and majority of them use firewood and charcoal as the main source of fuel for cooking since electricity and other sources of fues are expensive and not available. In Uganda 96% of households use solid fuel for cooking, in rural households at 98%, and very common in urban households (85%) wood is the main type of fuel used for cooking in rural areas (85%) while charcols is the most used cooking fuel in urban areas at 68% (Climate CoLab proposal for Absorbing climate change impact 2018). It is therefore necessary for the government of Uganda invest in affordable and clean energy like subsidizing electricity to make it affordable, facilitate the use of efficient and energy conserving fuel technology like solar lamps, solar cookers, and energy saving stoves
Preserve and protect water bodies
Preserving and protecting water bodies like wetlands , forests and vegetation is very necessary for my region. By 2015 Uganda had a total of 241,550.7 square kilometers with open water bodies covering 36.864.01 square kilometers, wetlands cover 7, 620.76 square kiolometers, but there is an average decline in forest cover of 5.42 percent per year (Climate CoLab proposal for absorbing climate change impact 2018). This is because people resorted to cutting trees for business, fuel and construction. It is therefore necessary to strengthen the protection of forests. Wetlands which serve as absorbers for emmissions, have been occupied by homeless people and the so-called investors who set up factories. Government should hence ensure good planning for evictions from wetlands and other water bodies, agro-forestry should also be encouraged.
Engage the media
For successful adaptation measures, the media should be engaged right from the start, media houses especially radio used by majority Ugandans (51%), T.V, Internet for corporates and the youth play a vital role in informing the masses about climate change issues so they should not be ignored.
Adopt droughts and disease tolerant crops
According to the latest National Food Security Assessment report, the 2015/16 El Nino event in Uganda seriously impacted the Eastern, Central and Western regions of Uganda, they experienced severe food shortage as a result of delayed and shortlived rainfall.Therefore, drought and disease tolerant crops like all season mushrooms should be grow for adaptation purposes. All seasons food like some types of yams, mushrooms can help overcome food insecurity problems caused by climate change and also as a small income generating purposes.
Adopt a gender responsive approach
Climate change affects Women, girls and boys differently and the magnitude of the impact of climate change varies, the adaptation strategy hence needs to take this into account. Policies need to be drafted that ensure gender balance and equlity. Gender-sensitive indicators need to be built into monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track whether climate change adaptation plans or projects are contributing to gender equality. Involving women and men in the participatory, gender-sensitive development of indicators can be highly effective and meaningful in termss of monitoring of knowledge, attitude and practices as well as subtle gender-differentiated changes and vulnerability and resillience.
Promote sustainable use of solid and liquid wastes for energy generation
An example is the use of banana peels, cow dung and other wastes can be used to make briquettes that are used as an alternative to biomass energy like firewood and charcoal both got from cutting down trees, this doubles as a mitigation and adaptation measure in that it reduces the cutting of trees yet it is cheaper and easy to make from wastes.
Though it seems far from achievable, we can start off by massive reforestation. For every tree that is cut down for commercial purposes, five more should be planted to replace it. This should be the crusade right form school to all public places.
Could climate/environmentally friendly development and activities for more social justice go hand in hand with adaptation measures? Are they some examples of projects/ stories to tell?
Yes environmentally friendly development and activities for more social justice could go hand in hand with adaptation measures because both are very important; we need development because we are still a developing country but the development should be environmentally friendly and also taking social justice in consideration, also adaptation measures should be planned in a way that they do not create more problems for vulnerable people.
The environmental and health consequences of climate change threaten civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including the right to life. On a national or local level, those people who are most vulnerable to the adverse environmental consequences include poor people, members of minority groups, women, children, older people, people with chronic diseases and disabilities. On a global level, there is much inequity, with low income countries, which produce the least Greenhouse gases, being more affected than high income countries which produce higher amounts of GHGs yet less immediately affected, In addition, low income countries have far less capability to adapt to climate change than high income countries. (Science direct).
Below are some of the opinions that effect;
Economic growth and climate justice
Those who put economic justice before social justice should know that climate change is already having the heaviest impact on the poorest people, thus exacerbating injustice Economic growth should be redefined to take in consideration the quality of life, if economic growth means depriving the future, then it is meaningless because when you come to think of it and analyse the effects of climate change, they are interconnected, ranging from hunger, diseases, and their associated problems, a hungry population cannot be healthy and an unhealthy population cannot work, How can you achieve economic growth without the labour force? Economic growth/development therefore should go hand in hand with and adaptation measure,
I understand Uganda cannot afford to choose between addressing climate change and promoting development; the two are interlinked and will become increasingly so over the foreseeable future. Building climate resilience or increasing the ability to adapt to climate change in as a low carbon way as possible will help Uganda achieve sustainable development and social just, but we can have both economic development and climate change justice by engaging Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority to always make sure an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is done before allowing the government or investors to put up a factory or any other economic activity.
A rich man’s company (Rosebud) in Uganda was engaged in flower farming in one Lutembe wetland on Entebbe road, first of all it was so wrong to use the wetland for an economic activity, secondly, the flower farms according to Doctors are not supposed to be near residents but this place had very many people living close to the farm which was dangerous to their life, residents complained of inhaling the pesticides and other chemicals from the farm. If the National Environment Management Authority had taken an Environment Impact Assessment, they would have advised the company to look for another place to grow flowers, without putting the life of poor people who live there at risk.
Alternative jobs for poor labourers
I like this question because it gives a chance to ask the question that has been bothering me in all this; Yes! It is not right to put individual interests first when implementing climate change adaptation measures, I agree, and yes, the poor workers in factories, in coal mines at fuel stations should know that the jobs they are crying for, the jobs they are afraid to lose when these factories are closed, are just helpful now, but the impact of emissions will have a lasting negative impact for them, their children and grandchildren in future, me and you understand that, but what about them? Do they understand that? Can they really support us environmental activists and climate change campaigners in our campaign against fossil fuels? No! They see us as a threat to their jobs in this world where jobs are scarce! What do we do then?
Given the concern above, in my opinion I think environmentally friendly development and activities for more social justice going hand in hand with adaptation measures to me means; if for example in Uganda, we need, people to stop using gas cookers because they use fossil fuels, then our government should first invest more in expanding our dams that generate hydroelectric power so that we have it enough and subsidized for people to afford it, at the same time if it is expanded, the people who have been working at fuel stations will be convinced that they can be employed at the hydro power stations, but you cannot talk of closing their fuel stations when they have nowhere to go, they will not support you, and without support, your campaign will not be successful.
Another thing we need to stop in Uganda is the cutting of trees for firewood, for charcoal, there are some people who have charcoal burning and selling as their jobs, we should then think of where they can be employed by engaging them in trainings to learn how to make briquettes instead of charcoal, teaching them how to make energy saving stoves which they can sell instead of firewood. Depending on one’s country, we can always think of alternatives so that there is social justice for vulnerable people when implementing climate change adaptation.
Is the fight for equality for women and the participation of them in decision making structures important/ crucial for a more justice and ecofriendly society and if so why/ can you explain and give some examples/ tell stories?
Yes! The fight for equality for women and their participation in decision making structures is very import for a more justice and eco-friendly society because of the following reasons;
Women’s role in development
Women though considered as a weaker sex, in fact play a very vital role in development, if all the work they are responsible for was paid, they would be even richer than men, their work is too much and very important not only to the family but also to the community and the nation at large. They work longer hours than their male counterparts, they wake up earlier to prepare not only for their children but also for their husbands, and even if they start and leave their jobs at the same time with men, they still come back and prepare food while men join their friends for a drink, they are the ones that go to bed after everyone else has slept and yet wake-up before everyone to ensure everyone’s wellbeing. If they were not doing that work, someone else would have been paid to do the same, they therefore save the family that cost. Since they spend most of the time doing domestic work which if shared with the men would have been a lesser burden, they do not get enough time to concentrate on paid jobs, no time for political engagement and participation in decision making. Equality for women is hence very crucial if we are to achieve a more justice and eco-friendly justice.
Uganda like many other African countries being dependant on agriculture for their development, According to statistics available today, women provide about 70% of the agricultural labour force and are responsible for 70-80% of production of food crops and virtually for all the food processing. They also provide an estimated 60% of the labour in cash crop production of coffee, cotton, and sesame. (Namaganda 2017). They do not only spend the longest hours at the farm than men but also make sure they prepare food for everyone at home including those who left them at the farm working and when it comes to yields/proceeds it is men who have a say, not women, this discourages them to work harder resulting in low productivity. The world cannot be a better place if there is no fairness when it comes to women, they should therefore be included in decision making to be motivated to work harder thereby reducing poverty that is indirectly leading to environmental degradation.
Climate change affects everyone but given the fact that women are more vulnerable than men and given their gender role in society, they are affected more by climate change than men, they are the ones who cannot escape disaster caused by climate change, they are the ones who get raped as they go to fetch water from wells far from home, they are the ones who suffer looking for food to prepare for the family – how can you make decisions regarding climate change then without involving them? At the last concluded Climate Change Conference in Bonn, after years of negotiations, countries agreed on a Gender Action Plan, a plan that calls for greater focus on issues of concern to women, and to ensure that more women are part of the process that historically has been male dominated. Still, while gender issues were mainstreamed into a wide range of events, many of the hundreds of panel discussions that took place at the Conference were still dominated by men, who don’t even feel the effects of climate change easily.
Women are good activists
If women are engaged in climate change decision making, mitigation and adaptation can be realised because they are good activists and people easily believe in them since they are mothers, calm and convincing in nature.
ENVIRONMENTAL/ CLIMATE ACTIVISM IN UGANDA
Most of the environmental groups in Uganda are NGOs, the others are not groups but are just departments under the central and local government, in the Central government the department is under the Ministry of Water and Environment and the Local government an Environment officer under the department of Production and natural resources, there is also an authority that is concerned with the environment in Uganda, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is charged with the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring, regulating and supervising environmental management in the country.
Some of the environment groups in Uganda and what they do
There are many environmental organanisations in Uganda and they do different activities ranging from activism, advocacy and real actions for the environment for example;
Rangelands and Cattle Conservation Network Uganda (Where I work as a part timer) a consortium community, national and regional organizations consisting of pastoralists and small holder households in Uganda’s arid and semi arid cattle corridor region. It consists of individual farmers, agropastoralists, researchers,scientists and private sector. With a coordinating secretariat in Kampala and offices in Mityana and Gomba districts,they strive to promote bio diversity and nature friendly livelihood in the rangelands and cattle corridor areas of Uganda, and work with communities to promote activities that conserve the environment, welfare, nutrition and preserving as well as protecting our way of life that does not conflict with the environment.
Joint Energy and Environmental Projects (JEEP)
JEEP fights to stop Environmental Destruction and promote Efficient Management of Natural Recourses through creating environment conservation awareness to communities at all levels, training communities in tree planting and tree nursery management. Promote and train communities in making of energy saving technologies e.g. energy saving stoves, briquettes, Fireless cookers solar information, designs, installation and management of solar systems advocating for climate change mitigation.
This one has different programmes like harnessing the environment for inclusive and sustained development which includes addressing natural resource degradation and action on climate change, enhancing food and malnutrition security.
There are other Environmental NGOs in Uganda like ECOTRUST, Uganda Environment Education Foundation (UEEF) which are doing environmental protection activities like conserving natural resources, research and advocating for environmental laws.
How does the Green Party work? Which goals and demands do you have? Which are the goals for Greens in Uganda on Climate change mitigation and adaptation?
The Green Party being a political party that was founded by environmentalists, one of its principals is environmental conservation. The Green party does its work as a political party that aims to take power in order to be able to influence policies that favour Green Ideologies like peaceful co-existence, environmental conservation, social justice, ecological wisdom and biodiversity among others.
Even when not in higher leadership positions like Parliament, the Green party in Uganda still makes demands to Government and civil societies to fulfil their obligations, they do this through advocacy for example we write petitions to the Parliament of Uganda whenever there is an urgent issue especially of injustice to the society, environmental degradation, we also do demonstrations and write on posts on social media like face book, we carry out sensitisation and awareness programmes through our informative workshops and training.
On climate change mitigation and adaptation, the goals for Greens in Uganda are; promoting pro-poor low carbon development strategies in Uganda, educating women on the pro-poor and eco-friendly energy technologies to tackle climate change, participation in International climate change and women rights negotiations.
We are already doing some activities towards that for example in April we organised an energy and climate change workshop, we engaged the press and partnered with environmental NGOs, recently the Women Greens National leader in Uganda Dorothy Nalubega organised a training on Pro-poor low carbon alternatives and the Secretary general is working with JEEP (an environmental NGO) to educate people on environmental protection as a climate change mitigation and adaptation measure.
Are there any kind of repression against environmental activist?
Yes, there is repression against environmental activists especially from environmental degradation perpetrators who are sometimes big figures in government hoping to get some money from the so-called investors who carryout “economic activities” in lakes, forest reserves and wetlands at the expense of the environment.
An example is the Wakiso District Chairman who is my boss, after learning that some Chinese were excavating sand from Lake Victoria and that this had resulted into water pollution and loss of fish, he ordered them to stop their actions which they did not do and when he engaged Police, the Chinese decided to use force. The District Chairperson is a respected person, he is equal to the Mayor of a City in Uganda but the Chinese disrespected him and even fought him and also intimidated him because they had some “big people in government. On another occasion when he was trying to fight for environment, the District Councillors themselves turned around and threatened to impeach him so he can lose his seat as the District Chairperson they found lame reasons from what he said and falsely accused him of saying they were bribed by the company that was excavating sand from the lake.
Wakiso District Chairperson Mr. Matia Lwanga Bwanika fighting with the Chinese who excavated sand from Lake Victoria in Kasanje
There are many activists who suffered in the fight for environment but one other example is when our President Museveni of Uganda decided to give away parts of tropical Mabira Forest for sugar production, he faced protests from Ugandans and backed off, but the then Member of Parliament Beatrice Anywar (nicknamed Mama Mabira) who had led demonstrations and protests suffered a lot, she was once arrested for leading the protests and yet she had a point; Mabira was not like any other forest. It is a tropical, natural forest with rich biodiversity. It is irreplaceable. Its value is incomparable to sugar cane growing. It is One of Africa’s last remaining tropical forests, a home to precious wildlife and is an eco tourist attraction that is why Ugandans couldn’t look on as it was threatened.
Is it important for your group and work to stay in global contact with other groups? Why?
Yes, it is very important for my group and work to stay in global contact because climate change is a global concern, whatever is done somewhere else can affect another area, it is therefore important that climate change activism involves all the people from the globe to stay in touch and work together for positive results.
Another reason for global contact is to create awareness, when we stay in contact we exchange views, share knowledge and experience thereby creating awareness.
Most of the climate change activities of awareness, sensitization, workshops, training need funds for mobilizing, facilitation, and transport allowances and refreshments for environmental experts, for example the Uganda women Greens campaign for alternative energy, was so much appreciated in Wakiso District where we launched but we cannot be able to move right now to other places, because we need some funding, not for paying but for facilitation and transport. If we are in global contact with other groups, we may be able to get funds to sustain our programme.
Mitigation and adaptation measures by Uganda Government
National Climate Change Policy
In Uganda the development of a National Climate Change Policy and its implementation Strategy enables the country to fulfill its obligations under the convention, and therefore contribute to addressing the global problem. Uganda’s five-year National Development Plan (2015/16-2019/20) already recognizes that addressing the challenges of climate change is crucial to enhancing sustainable economic and social development. With support from the governments of Denmark, Belgium, as well as from the United Kingdom through the World Bank, the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment has coordinated the development of the Uganda National Climate Change Policy through extensive consultations with a wide range of national and local stakeholders. The policy is intended to guide all climate change activities and interventions in the country.
Forest rehabilitation project
In 1989 the government implemented a six-year forestry rehabilitation project financed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This project included a nationwide tree-planting campaign and a series of three-year training courses for rural extension agents, leaders of women’s groups, educators, and farmers. Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and several multilateral donor agencies also provided assistance in the forestry sector.
Government is embarking on small, medium and large scale irrigation schemes as well as enhancement of mechanized production. FAO is working with the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Enviroment and Ministry Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to improve access of crops and livestock to water for production, FAO is also in support of the irrigation scheme in Western Uganda.
The government of Uganda did some practical thing – to give out LED bulb for free to Ugandans to replace the incandescent bulbs that use a larger amount of energy. LED light bulbs are a more environmentally-friendly alternative to incandescent bulbs. The bulbs can work for 50000 hours, if not run outside of the specified temperature range. They use about 8-11 watts of power to replace a 60-watt incandescent with at least 806 lumen and 9.5 watts for a 75-watt equivalent. This capacity provides an efficiency gain of up to 80% over incandescent bulbs. When used they save a 80% of electricity energy.
Signatory to UN Climate change Framework Convention on Climate Change
By signing and ratifying both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, Uganda has committed to the adoption and implementation of policies and measures designed to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. Uganda government has tried to an extent to implement but to a larger extent it has failed in the following ways.
Failure to ban plastic bags
Our neighbouring countries like Rwanda and Kenya banned the use of plastic bags but Uganda has failed to implement it because it is so soft on manufacturers, it has banned them twice but not at one time has the law worked for even a month, it has failed because they only think of the taxes they get from manufacturers of plastic bags than the negative effects on the environment.
Failure by NEMA to manage the environment
The National Environment Management Authority which is charged with ensuring environmental protection in Uganda has failed in many occasions especially when it comes to the rich and so-called investors carrying out economic activities in wetlands and forest reserves, you wonder how they start constructing factories while NEMA looks on and yet they are quick to evict the poor from wetlands.
Failure of leaders to be exemplary
The Uganda President himself chose to give away part of Mabira Forest to Mehta sugar company owner to grow sugar canes to produce more sugar if it wasn’t for the massive demonstrations of Ugandans to save the forest, if the leaders themselves cannot see the importance of protecting such water bodies then one wonders how much the government is willing to implement mitigation and adaptation measures.
In conclusion therefore, climate change mitigation and adaptation is a responsibility of everyone but the government being the social rights duty bearer, it should take the first responsibility to make sure the measures are implemented.