Warning
  • JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 27832

Uganda’s Agriculture Can’t Thrive Beyond 1.5-Degree Global Warming

On Dec.12, 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change approved the Paris Agreement committing 195 nations of the world to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” The pact commits the world to adopt nationally determined policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions in accord with those goals.

The little landlocked, agricultural nation Uganda submitted it’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in late November 2015, succinctly indicating a 22% carbon cut by 2030, acknowledging the negative impacts global warming has on her economy severely in agricultural sector.

Dominated by small holder farmers of upto 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 the current threats of rising global average temperatures that has alarmed to surpass the benchmark of 1.5-degree Celsius over time.

The 2°C goal set by Paris delegates represents a temperature increase from a pre-industrial baseline that scientists believe will maintain the relatively stable climate conditions that humans and other species have adapted to over the previous 12,000 years. If this temperature range surpassed, dangerous tipping point would have been crossed.

The tipping point represent dire consequences with changing face of natural order of the planet, even worse in the agricultural performance a poor country.

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.

Bird flu is ravaging poultry husbandry.  Since January 02, signs of bird flu were detected in Uganda where fishermen reported “mass death of wild birds” on the shores of Lake Victoria, near Entebbe, which lies near the capital Kampala.

The epidemic has also evaporated to neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi. The director in charge of animal health in the Burundian ministry of agriculture and livestock, Mr. Nsanganiyumwami Déogratias says they are aware of the presence of the disease in East African Community since Monday 16th January 2017. “We held a meeting with the minister and competent experts to impose measures to protect people against any contamination”, he says. 

While the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has studied that between 5000 and 7000 heads of cattle have died due to lack of water in the Karamoja and Turkana regions pastoralists regions of East Africa combined.

Since October 2016, livestock in Isingiro and Kiruhura districts are dying due to starvation following prolonged drought in the area. The two neighbouring districts have traditionally been hit by drought, but Dr Bruhan Kasozi, the Isingiro veterinary officer, says the scarcity of water and pasture he has witnessed was the worst in the 17 years he has worked in the area.

The effect of a warming planet will deeply penetrate sub-Saharan Africa because this region is over dependent on agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone, declares Uganda’s government. But it’s also not shy to say this sector dependent on weather and we know weather on climate.

This agriculture-weather-climate bond “cannot be broken easily,” cries Hon. Lawrence Songa, the head of climate change department at the Uganda’s ministry of Water and Environment.

“It can only be broken through two efforts,” he says in a slightly altered statement. “One: by ensuring that the global temperature increase is kept at bay, and two: by mechanizing agriculture to stop over dependence on the weather.

Truly if agriculture and weather is joined at the hip, then Uganda’s development prospect heavily leans on the mercy of climate. Any slight increase of global temperatures doesn’t only disorganise the biosphere but ruins 85% of the population who directly derive their livelihood in crop and or animal rearing.

The Uganda’s worshiped development agenda termed “Vision 2040” clarifies the chief development goal as “a Transformed Ugandan Society from a Peasant to a commercialised farming.” Yet the current picture paints a climate-change-stricken sector. Agriculture is on the decline due.

According to Paris Agreement, “keeping global average temperatures to 2.0-degree Celsius will minimize some of the worst impacts of climate change: drought, heat waves, heavy rain and flooding, and sea level rise. Limiting the global surface temperature increase to 1.5°C would lessen these impacts even further.”

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. In 2016, 4.8 million bags were produced which was noticed as an increase due to mere increase of acreage of coffee plantations. 

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 Center already shows that coffee exports have declined in “real terms” since 1998. This drop in crop performance Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) blames on coffee wilt that mainly affects the native, lowland robusta-heat sensitive-variety.

Yet the country is not free from coffee berry disease that entered from its eastern neighbour Kenya as early as the 1920s. Since 1993, it has destroyed over 12 million plants. Uganda also grows arabica coffee, which is grown in the highlands. So far, this has remained unaffected by the disease.

The major reason for the infestation of this coffee disease is because it thrives under high temperatures of between 26 to 40-degree Celsius, a now characteristic temperature of Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Ugandan Metrological Department (UMD).

1.5 and 2°C are not hard and fast limits beyond which disaster is imminent, but they are now the milestones by which the world measures all progress toward slowing global warming.

February 2016 exceeded the 1.5°C target at 1.55°C, marking the first time the global average temperature has surpassed the sobering milestone in any month. March followed suit checking in at 1.5°C. January’s mark of 1.4°C, put the global average temperature change from early industrial levels for the first three months of 2016 at 1.48°C.

It is thus irrefutable that the only hope for Uganda’s Agricultural sector is if the global average temperature is kept below the 1.5-degrree Celsius mark. Continuing to firefight with sweltering drudgery farming responsibilities without digging the problems from the roots is a stark chasing the rainbow.

Keeping at 1.5-degree require not one action or sets of action from one big polluter like China, or US but a marriage of actions that curb carbon emissions from all over the world, under the auspices of the 1.5-degree UNFCCC Paris pact we already entered.

 

 

By Boaz Opio

   

Demand For Environmental Health Experts Increasing, Says University Dean

The dean Faculty of health sciences, Victoria University, Dr. Krishna N. Sharma has warned that humans need to leave in a health environment but the availability of environmental health experts is not correlating with the increasing demand. 

Dr. Sharma who recently the high rising Victoria University located on Jinja road in Kampala city described environment health as a human need which must be preserved by experts in that field because ‘we don’t have a choice’.

“No matter who we are, the fact is that we all have to live in an environment. As far as we are alive, whatever we touch, breath, eat or drink may bring us trouble. So a healthy environment is our need. We don’t have a choice.  Here come the environmental health experts,”

To fill up the gap, Victoria University under the Faculty of health sciences is offering degree like a Bachelor of environmental Health Sciences that provides fundamental knowledge of environment health. The degree course puts emphasis on the control of major environmental health problems such as water supply, waste disposal, food hygiene, occupational health, air pollution and other environmental aspects.

Dr. Sharma says the application of environmental of environmental health knowledge, principles and methods is vital for the health and safety of the population in the world. The university says environmental health is a principal area of study in the field of public health.

Environmental health scientists, according to Dr. Sharma, work on assessing, managing, controlling and preventing environmental risks through research, advocacy and intervention at community, national and global level. Bachelor of environmental Health Sciences is a three year course.

“The demand for environmental health experts is increasing at the speed of development and urbanization due to the increase in health threats that come with urbanization,” Dr Sharma, who is in charge of the line faculty, said.

“At this time, more than 54% of the world population lives in urban areas.  In fact even in Uganda, the level of urbanization last year was 18% and it might increase to 30% by 2030. It is estimated that about 50% of the total Ugandan population will be living in urban areas by 2050.

So if you look at these statistics, you will get a broader picture and understand how the demand for environmental health experts is increasing rapidly and how brighter the career in this field is.” He adds.

Dr Sharma, a renowned academician, celebrity physiotherapist and prolific author says Victoria University is going to work a lot on research and publications. “We are upgrading the teaching methodology with the latest schools of thoughts in pedagogy. We will focus on the fruitful research… the research that will bring positive change in Uganda and abroad. 

This year we will have our own journal and publication so once the students graduate from here, they will already have their published research paper and book. These will give an added value and recognition to them. Apart from this, we are going to move towards online education through our e-academy. We are planning to offer many free courses too as a part of our corporate social responsibility.

KISU To Host 4th Children’s Climate Change Conference

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and My Kid is A Superstar have announced that this year’s International Children’s Climate Change Conference will be hosted by Kampala International School Kampala (KISU) which is located in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb, on 22nd April, 2017.

Joseph Masembe the CEO of Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, a civil society organization that advocates for environment conservation, said during a press conference at KISU that 300 child delegates from 40 schools including 4 international schools from Rwanda will meet at the conference being organized under the theme ‘environmental and climate literacy’.

“These children will be representing different nationalities and will discuss and debate environmental issues. Each school will be given time to present its thoughts on the theme of the conference,” Masembe told journalists on Tuesday morning.

The conference will give a platform for children to air out their views on climate change, promote environment conservation among children, showcase efforts children are putting in the climate change fight among other efforts dedicated to environmental conservation.

Steve Lang, School Director KISU expressed delight being part of the conference emphasizing that radical and concerted effort is required to promote environmental conservation through education and mobilizing the next generation.

“That, to me, is what this conference is all about, and why we are so pleased to be hosting it.” Lang noted. The conference is supported by KISU, earth day network, NBS Television, Kampala Capital City Authority and Rwanda Little Hands Go Green.  

The International Children’s Climate Change conference will take place on World Earth Day April 22nd.  A delegation from Rwanda's Mother Mary School, Little Bears Montessori and Hope Academy will be accompanied by patrons from the schools as well as officials from Rwanda's Little Hands Go Green, REMA, parents and Q sourcing Rwanda.

Children To Discuss Environmental And Climate Literacy At Conference

Uganda Little Hands go Green and My Kid is a Superstar together with partners are organized the 4th International Children’s Climate Change Conference. This year, the annual one day conference will be hosted by Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) on Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Organisers of conference say they are expecting to bring together 300 child delegates from over 40 schools, different nationalities and backgrounds and representing different countries across the globe. The theme of the conference which aims at encouraging children to preserve the environment will run under the theme ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy’.

Minister Frank Tumwebaze helps pupils plant a tree to launch activities of the conference in 2015

The conference which also seeks to empower youngsters with enough knowledge about the environment and climate change coincides with the global celebration of World Earth Day.

“We have serious challenges regarding climate change, unsustainable use of natural resources, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, forests and farmland. Not to mention the huge inequality still prevailing in several parts of the planet,” an official from Little Hands Go Green said in a statement emphasizing that climate change is a very real threat to economy and a threat to ‘the future of our children, to our way of life’.

Joseph Masembe welcoming Pius Bigirimana, and Irish Ambassador to Uganda Dónal Cronin to a previous conference

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green has a mission to inspire a patriotic nationwide culture of “Our Environment is Our Future and Our Future is Our responsibility” by creating a mass hysteria of tree planting by children both at school and at home.

“What we are about is sowing the seeds of environmental propriety in the children and teaching them that owning up to and taking care of their environment is their responsibility,” Joseph Masembe said in an email interview.

Pupils take part in a play at one of the previous conferences

“We seek to assign responsibility of ensuring a Green future for all on the children because the future belongs to them. We have pioneered a new wave of change where we are making environmental conservation education cool for kids.

It is not in the National education curriculum so we are creating an extracurricular segment for environmental conservation education by driving children to each plant at least a fruit tree in their homes or wherever they can,” he explained.

 

Bunyoro Kingdom Rolls Mass Tree Planting Sensitization

By George Busiinge
Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom has embarked on a massive tree planting campaign as one of the measures to mitigate the likely effects oil and gas production will have on the environment.The Kingdom Premier, Norman Lukumu, says the Kingdom parliament resolved to roll out the massive tree planting campaign following the dry spell that has affected the area.

According to Lukumu, they have teamed up with two unnamed Non-Governmental Organisation to distribute free tree seedlings to the Kingdom subjects for planting.He says the seedlings will be distributed at various events such as burials,village meetings and at the sub-counties using sub-countychiefs and kingdom subjects.

Lukumu also says they are also encouraging each family to plant atleast five trees for each newly born baby, adding that this will encourage the young generation to conserve the environment.

He added that they are also going to take this sensitization to all schools in Bunyoro so that they can also help in conserving the environment. Information from Bunyoro Kingdom shows that most of the tree species in forest reserves like Bugoma were imported from northern Tanzania and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by kings especially Kabalega for herbal medicine among other uses.

Let’s Adopt Concept Of Ecosystem Valuation To Fight Climate Change

Recently, the media has reported how climate change has continued to be one major threat to development in the country with water, agriculture and electricity sectors being the worst hit. At the moment, farmers mercilessly watch their crops dry prematurely in gardens as herdsmen helplessly watch their livestock die out of starvation while electricity generation companies also continue to produce below normal capacity, all these are resulting into loss of livelihoods and economic prospects for the country.  

As people continue to wonder how these impacts remain a major threat to their livelihoods and threatening the stability of the economy, it is important for everyone to reflect on the key drivers to these challenges and find amicable solutions to them.

For instance the environment for which life on earth depends on is a complex structure that works in uniformity in a manner that when one part is destroyed, the entire process is affected. If we can appreciate the facts, one would urge that humans are primarily responsible for the environmental challenges we are facing today, resulting form over exploitation on the environmental services without attaching any economic value to it. 

For instance, according to Uganda’s state of environment report 2014, the rate at which industries are mushrooming in various parts of the country without proper physical plans are mostly destroying the wetlands and forestry land. These effects have direct effects on the natural hydrological cycle responsible for rain formation and balancing of temperature.

Further, the constant displacement of people to pave way for development coupled with population pressure is now pushing communities deeper into protected areas as they search for alternative land for settlement land, these results into forest degradation. The 2014 population results estimated Uganda’s population at 35 million with a growth rate of 3.3 per annum

As challenges of climate change continue to sting on us and dig deep into our budgets, it’s important for local communities start attaching economic value to ecosystems services as a means to guide their decisions on whether to exploit the resource on conserve it.

Ecosystem valuation is the process by which policy or decision makers attach monetary value to an environmental resources or to the outputs and services provided by those resources to the public. For instance, a mountain forest may provide environmental services by preventing downstream flooding or absorb carbondioxide that would damage the atmosphere, so the value attached to the mountain forest can be evaluated according to the amount of money saved from the devastating impacts of floods on people or control amount of greenhouse gasses exposed to the atmosphere respectively.

As much as conservationist have often urged that is not reasonable to attach monetary value to nature, it’s a widely accepted concept meant to offer guidance in coming up with decision that have direct effect on environment.

Therefore it’s important for Civil Society Organizations sensitizing local communities who are the primary users of ecosystem services to attach value and conserve them.

While government should work with all her line institutions to ensure that rights legislation and polices are in place to promote the adoption of Ecosystem Valuation in development so as to enable the dreams of achieving Uganda Vision 2040 a reality. 

 

By Samuel Okulony

Programs and Research Coordinator

Environmentalist

Africa Institute for Energy Governance

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Build Communities Capacity To Adapt To Climate Change In Agriculture And Water Sectors

Once described as Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill in 1908 for the abundance of fauna and flora with unique wildlife species and having beautiful sceneries, Uganda is currently on the verge of losing the accolade due to the impacts of climate change that is threatening food security, water supply and biodiversity conservation in the country. 

With the increase in the average temperatures, frequency and intensity of rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts seasons, persistent floods in the country yet with less adaptive strategies in place, Uganda thus is driving as one of the countries highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

The agricultural sector that supports more than 80% of Uganda's population especially in rural areas is the most affected especially for communities who depend on rain fed agriculture, which is a direct threat to economic development as well as the well-being of the people.

While Uganda's biodiversity hotspots especially in the Albertine Graben that hosts both world’s endemic and endangered species, are being threatened and degraded by the emerging oil exploitation; where infrastructural developments such as oil refinery and oil pipelines are resulting into the clearance of forests cover for development activities and displacement of communities pushing them deeper into protected areas in search for alternative settlement areas are all  accelerating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity conservation.

It should be noted that without intervention, climate change will inflate the frequency and intensity of extreme weathers patterns and has the potential to halt or reverse the country’s development path including achieving vision 20140 of “transformed Ugandan society from peasant to middle income economy.”  

In particular, this will be revealed and felt in increased food insecurity, loss of biodiversity and tourism potential, shift in the spread of diseases such as malaria, land degradation, flood damage to infrastructure as well as settlement and will also lower productivity of agriculture and natural resources.

The events of the past years such as the 2016 drought in the cattle corridor that resulted into famine, the 2010 mudslides in Bududa district that resulted into the massive loss of lives and property and the 2007 floods in Teso sub region that swept away agricultural plantations is a clear indication of the magnitude of the problem our country is facing. 

It is thus clear that the poor and vulnerable communities tend to be the most affected by these impacts due to their limited capacity to manage them. With the development of the oil industry in western Uganda and clearance of forest for plantation agriculture, it is important for government to ensure that all policies formulated to mitigate and adapt to climate change in Uganda are compiled with so as to minimise the negative effects and build communities capacity to be resilient to climate change especially in agricultural production and water security.  

 

Samuel Okulony

Programs and research coordinator

Africa institute for energy governance

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Green Kids Xmas Party Returns

Every Christmas, Uganda Little Hands Go Green celebrates the birth of Christ with a purpose, a purpose to save the environment by planting trees and a purpose to fight climate change through encouraging children to plant and not to cut trees.

As we enter into the Christmas festivities, Uganda Little Hands Go Green is yet again organizing the annual Green Xmas Party at Kololo Airstrip on December 18. The kid’s party will be used to create relevance and awareness regarding protecting the environment. Entrance is Ushs10, 000 per child while adults will enter for free.

Uganda Little Hands Go Green officials say the Green Xmas Party is a platform ‘to give children the opportunity to enjoy their childhood with meaningful environment conservation participation and above all celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

The biggest Green Xmas Party in East Africa that blends a celebration of Christmas with a celebration of the children's love for conservation of the environment will be graced by some of the country’s top artists. The event was in 2014 graced by the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni.

President Museveni became the first president in Uganda’s history to plant a tree at Kololo airstrip where this great nation was born. He also did it in style with Uganda’s Little Hands go Green. He gave valuable lessons to the children, sang for them and promised to spend more time with them at the next Green Fest.

 

Climate Change: Uganda’s Journey To Marrakech

Last year by now, the Climate Change Department (CCD) at the Ministry of Water and Environment was busy finalizing the preparation of INDCs, a document that promised out how we are going to contribute in the fight against climate change,paving way for our attendance and participation in the landmark Paris climate Agreement COP21.

COP22, a ministerial meeting of discussions on means of implementation of the Paris Agreement before and after 2020 is yet again set forNovember 7 to 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. According to minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, speaking during a two day ministerial opening conference, said one of the pillars of the plan is to encourage Parties to implement and strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

Uganda is one party currently taking a road that doesn’t reflect its INDC where the country pledges to cut “22 percent of national green-house gas emissions by 2030 compared to business-as-usual”. Easy said than done as they say.

We are right now digging up more oil wells despite the Global Climate call to keep fossil fuels in the ground—to curb carbon pollutants that warm our planet.

Crude oil reserves estimated by government geologists at 3.5 billion barrels were discovered in the Albertine rift basin along Uganda's border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) way back in 2006.

But immediately after Paris meeting (Feb 2015), Uganda contracted three dirty energy companies; Nigerian firms WalterSmithPetroman Oil Limited, Oranto Petroleum International, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources and Australia's Armour Energy Limited rather than focusing pursuing its “paltry” renewable programs—paltry in comparison to the expenses and attention given to dirty energy investments.

So, as Mezouar congratulates the international community for the recent major successes achieved in fighting climate change which include triggering the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the ICAO agreement to curb CO2 emissions from the international aviation sector and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in Malaysia, he should have commiserated parties whose strides towards cutting carbon dioxide emissions are inconspicuous as Uganda. But he didn’t. Instead, he said:

“COP22 offers us all a new hope to refocus on the targets we envisioned during COP21 Paris.”

Once again, 195 countries will gather for to streamline actions to save our planet. As the world gears up to reaffirm its commitment, its important Uganda, a country proud of its nickname: The pearl of Africa, opens up its eyes to the climate accelerated disasters such as heat waves, water shortages in its northern region, hunger and starvation amidst other tragedies manifesting a warming planet.

We should also recall what happened duringParis procession. Real world pictures of dwindling snow at Uganda’s “snow-capped” mountain Rwenzori was telecasted live into the conference till it turns out among some of the mind boggling sirens of climate change raising eyebrows of the delegates.

The Ministry of Water and Environment then noted that “we could actually lose the entire snow at the top of the mountain” if globe is not cooled. We, at the Paris climate accord, realised and acknowledged ways of cooling our globe by signing our name against ParisAgreement, an urgent need to keep the global average temperatures below 1.5 degree threshold.

But when the last knell went and we departed, the lure of dirty energy profits darkened and overshadowed our precision with realising rapid transformation in clean energy.

We could make clean energy strides if the current course of developing oil wells as well as gas sector is altered towards lifting clean energy sector from the ground where it’s currently lying at only 3 percent, and work for the over 85 percent of the country still plunged in darkness not only without “reliable, clean energy supply” but without any form of electricity. This hope should be refueled in the forthcoming COP.

One powerful illusion that could deceive Uganda steer away from its targets is the “sugarcoats” of its forecasted oil exploration. According to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a leader famous for his much affection for black gold and gas as audible in his common adage “my oil”, this mineral exploitation “would create hundreds of thousands of jobs within few years, yield the government 80-90% revenues that would be invested back to agriculture and infrastructure”.

But an article titled “Uganda’s oil: pitfalls and environmental loss”, published in New Vision, refutes every “good aspect” of oil exploration amidst call to end carbon pollution. The article also revealed hidden realities behind oil and gas discovery, including the $14 billion – 880 miles Uganda – Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline (UTCOP) proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Uganda's oil fields to Tanga, Tanzania, a port on the Indian Ocean.

Yes, we don’t disagree that these facts are expiring world economic strategies for development.We realise fossil fuels area mirage of the worst counter-climate action caliber, and doesn’t only streamline the very carbon emissions we fight but also blocks the road to renewable energy development.

But we cannot sit back and be misled by illusions. If ourrecent agenda wasn’t all powerful enough to be reflected back by the promises we made before and during Paris, Marrakesh must be used as a new platform for catalyzing stimuli, to further stress the importance of implementing the pre-2020 commitments.

Written by: Boaz Opio

East Africa: Walking As A Community To Cop22 In Morocco

East African Community consists of 6 countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda politically bonded with one slogan: one people, one destiny. But how far does the federation walk together towards achieving 1.5 degree global temperature goal after COP21?

Adding to the much politicized tether, in 2009, East African Community Climate Change Policy (EACCCP) was drawn “in in response to the growing concern about the increasing threats of the negative Climate Change impacts to the development of set targets and goals in the region.”

But last year (2015) by now, Uganda was at the brink of submitting its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to UNFCC. Minister of Water and Environment Honourable Ephraim Kamuntu with his team at the Climate Change Department knew they were already behind schedule by weeks. Nevertheless, the document that envisaged “an approximately 22 percent reduction of national green-house gas emissionsin 2030 compared to business-as-usual” was later produced.

Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania had already submitted theirs. Kenya in July 2015, and Rwanda and Tanzania in September. South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation was left behind —submitted and announced on 23rd November 2015 after all her members.

What should be noted is that all Parties were invited to communicate to the secretariat their INDCs well in advance of COP 21; the deadline was 1st October. This means some individual countries within the community had already been left behind had UNFCCC not relaxed the deadline.

INDC document was paramount to “initiate or intensify” domestic preparations of how parties are willing to contribute to global warming and its timely drafting and submission is what COP counted on for streamlining decisions. Late submissions, thus, wouldn’t only interfere with the programmes following Paris climate agreement, but also meant delay on the side of national climate decisions.

Meanwhile Kenya was already in its journey launching several adaptation and mitigation programmesin response to her INDC communicated over 3 months earlier.Consequently Kenya launched a number of renewable energy projects that comprised of the Kinangop wind farm, a 61-Mega Watt wind farm that would generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 150,000 homes in the country. The fruits of these swift actions put Kenya and Rwanda among few countries in Africa where renewable energy is mostly invested according to the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

Today the country produces over 14 percent of its energy from renewable sources on the road to 90 percent target by 2030. Compared to her neighbour to the west—Uganda, a country according her own Bureau of Statistics access to electricity is at only 14 percent; 40 percent of urban households have access to electricity, while only 5percent of rural households have access to electricity, she’s too ahead.

Even the intentions and long term development plans of these two close countries are at a distance to one another:  according to Uganda Vision 2040 master plan, Uganda needs to generate 42,000MW of electricity from hydro, petroleum and gas sources, geo-thermal and nuclear sources, using uranium to become an upper middle income country. Her renewable energy sector is still below 3 percent of energy supply.

Their biggest neighbour to the south – Tanzania is even more behind. According to the 2016 country’s energy profile published by Renewable energy Association, only 1.2 percent of energy is generated from clean sources.

In the north most partner state, south Sudan, a country dubbed to have the biggest potential for solar—roughly 6.1 kWh/m2/day—according to studies byGlobal Environmental Facility (GEF), is also ranked the downer in terms of the utlisation of the energy with “only 10 percent of potential solar energy tapped” though the South Sudan generates 27 percent of power from solar alone.

While concentrating efforts to achieving 100 percent renewable energy was key to cleaner negotiations and ensuring immunity against dirty energy lobbyists, even within the region, countries have shown laxity in renewable investments.  In the same lane with her southern neighbour Uganda, 83% of South Sudan is rural and uses, Kerosene, charcoal and fire wood.

Walking and working as a united community and advocating for our fate together during the course of Cop22 climate negotiations this year in Marrakech would not only add power to this region’s voice as regarding their unique energy situations but will also strengthen unity and promote regional cooperation fighting climate change which seems to be currently lacking—countries are more focused on achieving their own domestic targets. This could be misleading or even tragic.

Because when climate related tragedies hit, it hits us together. The heat waves; the rainfall shortages: between July 2011 and mid-2012, a severe drought affected the entire East Africa region.Said to be "the worst in 60 years" the drought caused a severe food crisis across Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya that threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people.

Many refugees from southern Somalia fled to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where crowded, unsanitary conditions together with severe malnutrition led to a large number of deaths. Other countries in East Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan and parts of Uganda, were also affected by a food crisis.

The crisis was regional and never selected certain countries ‘that were lazier to act’and spared ‘active ones’ as it ought to have. If this isn’t scary enough to force East Africa to ‘run’ together in pursuit of their regional collaboration beyond economic spheres, missing an opportunity to hike favourable bargains during COP22 could be detrimental current progress achieving 1.5 degree temperature threshold.

By Boaz Opio

Subscribe to this RSS feed

26°C

Kampala

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 74%

Wind: 22.53 km/h

  • 24 Mar 2016 28°C 22°C
  • 25 Mar 2016 28°C 21°C