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.
Programs and research coordinator
Africa institute for energy governance