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
Africa Institute for Energy Governance