Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Buliisa Resettlement Coordination Committee Inaugurated

By George Busiinge 

Government of Uganda together with the oil companies Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda Operations have formed and inaugurated the Buliisa District Resettlement Coordination Committee (DIRCO), to raise awareness of resettlement requirements and fostering cooperation.

Mr. Simon Agaba Kinene was elected Chairperson and Mr. Bernard Tugume was elected Secretary of the 16-member Committee unopposed at a ceremony that took place at Buliisa district resource center on Tuesday April 11, 2017. Mr. Kinene is also the Buliisa District Chairperson and Mr. Tugume is the Buliisa District Senior Lands Management Officer.

The Committee comprises of the Chief Administrative Officer, Resident District Commissioner, Local Council (LC) V Chairman, LC3 chairpersons of Ngwedo, Kigwera, Butiaba, Buliisa, Biiso, Kihungya and Buliisa Town Council and District Lands Officer.

Other members include; representatives of the District Land Board, NGO forum, Bunyoro Kingdom, Buliisa District Community -Development Officer, Women Council representative, Total and Tullow representatives, Petroleum Authority of Uganda and Community Liaison Officers of the contractors.

As government of Uganda and the oil companies move into the development phase to prepare for the production of Uganda’s oil, this will necessitate land acquisition for temporary access and permanent occupation as well as easements for the establishment of production facilities such as roads, pipelines, well pads and a Central Processing Facility among other infrastructures,

The need for acquisition will involve the preparation of a number of Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs) which will be conducted by Atacama Consulting in association with Synergy Global Consulting Limited and Nomad Consulting, on behalf of Government and Oil companies.

DIRCO will act as the primary interface between Total and Tullow, the local Resettlement Planning Committees composed of the concerned persons and the Resettlement Advisory Committee (RAC) at central level. The committee will also function as the primary vehicle for the dissemination of information to the affected communities.

The preparation of the RAP requires regular engagement with key stakeholders where advice and support will be sought. Mr. Kinene called for a high level of transparency among the stakeholders in order to register success in the oil and gas sector.

Eskom Gifts Jinja Health Centre With Maternity Ward

President Yoweri Museveni recently commissioned a new maternity ward at the Kimaka Health Centre II, a government medical facility that has been grappling with the problem of lack of properly equipped maternity ward to handle the growing number of expectant mothers seeking medical services before delivery.

The facility has been upgraded and refurbished by Eskom Uganda in partnership with Jinja West Member of Parliament Hon Moses Balyeku, by installing modern clinical equipment to reduce the maternity related risks. Some of the equipment and items donated to the Centre include an Oxygen Machine, maternity beds, mosquito nets and an ambulance among others.

Eskom Uganda Managing Director Thozama Gangi   said that Eskom aims at creating a conducive medical facility in supplementation of government’s effort to reduce infant maternal deaths in the country.

 “We at Eskom trust that the improved health Centre will go a long way in improving the infant mortality rate within the municipality.  However, some women continue to give birth at home without the aid of a skilled birth attendant, which is a great health risk in case of complication. This facility should be a beacon of hope for such vulnerable women” said Thozama.

The chairman Eskom, Mr. Segomoco Scheppers revealed that Eskom has invested more than US$ 20 million in upgrading the systems and equipment at the site and they expect to invest additional US$ 25 million in the remaining period of the concession in upgrades and new system to sustain electricity availability.

Over the last 14 years of operations in Uganda, Eskom has invested in many priority areas which include environmental upgrade, sports sponsorship, health and education.

Speaking at the same event, Hon. Moses Balyeku pledged to continue working with relevant corporate organizations and government to on projects that can improve the welfare of the electorate.

 “Eskom has proved beyond doubt that it’s a good corporate citizen that cares for the welfare of Ugandans. The people of Busoga should be proud of this company for standing with us whenever we reach out to them. We pray that this kind of spirit continues for posterity”, he concluded.

The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Prof. Maj. Gen. (rtd.) Lekoa Solly Mollo, the High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa who hailed the partnership between Eskom and the local leadership to improve the health of the ordinary people.

Climate Changing Uganda’s Tourism Potential

By Boaz Opio

Way back in 2012, Uganda was ranked the number one tourist destination by Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. This is because the small land locked country has a tropical climate, with normal temperatures ranging from 21-25°C (70- 77°F), supporting ‘flourishing’ fauna and flora, stunning vistas of snowcapped mountains on the summits of Elgon and Rwenzori attracting visitors all year round. But all these natural treasures have started to wane in the face of increasing global average temperatures.

So far this year’s combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2017 was 0.98°C (1.76°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F)—the second highest for February in the 138-year period of record. While the latest news from UNMA - Uganda National Meteorological Authority already shows abnormal average temperature rise.

“During the period 21st-31st March 2017, the country experienced warm to hot conditions with average maximum temperatures ranging from 24.50C to 33.80C. These average maximum temperatures were recorded at Kabale and Wadelai weather stations respectively. Overall, the highest of the observed daily maximum temperatures of 36.90C occurred at Wadelai weather station,” reads a statement at the weather-overlooking parastatal.

The above statement is not only a statement but means a change in the environment, and the ecosystem, impacting on the decisions of tourist visiting the country. This in turn leads to a decline in the performance of Tourism sector which in fact Uganda is experiencing since 2012.

Uganda Tourism Board, an organisation charged with responsibility to oversee the performance of the once lucrative sector notices that tourism “could perform better” if the natural environment of Uganda is preserved—if rainforests reduce lumbering down for burning charcoal and obtaining firewood; if the renewable energy options such as solar energy, wind energy and biogas potentials are fully exploited.

According to a report published by Daily Monitor in Jan 13, 2016, Uganda Wild Life Authority blamed the declining Tourism in Uganda to negative publicity. This very negative publicity they are talking about comes as a result of facts in the ground.

The report reveals that UWA (Uganda Wild-life Authority) collected revenue of Shs42.6b, a decline of 24 per cent from Shs56b in 2013/14. As a result, UWA posted a deficit of Shs13b compared to the surplus of Shs4b reported in 2013/14.

“Management explained that in the financial year 2014-2015 there was a drop in the number of tourists visiting the protected areas from approximately 220,005 to 196,768 visitors (11% decrease) especially due to factors beyond management’s control and negative publicity,” the report reads.

Isn’t “negative publicity” rather a wrong narrative of the strong relationship climate has with tourism? Would the right narrative not rather be “Climate is Changing Uganda’s Tourism Potential?”

In a newspaper article titled “What is Killing Uganda’s Tourism?” published by Daily Monitor, a government owned newspaper, the Tourism Board spokesperson Vincent Mugaba, argued that Uganda is not the only country facing declining tourist numbers. “Our immediate neighbours, who actually spend a lot on marketing their countries, have been equally affected to.”

During the 45th Climate Outlook Forum for the Greater Horn of Africa held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 5 to 8th February 2017, the national, regional and international climate scientists reviewed the state of the global climate system and its implications on the seasonal rainfall over the East African region. It was observed that the major physical conditions likely to influence the weather conditions over Uganda and the rest of the East African region for the forecast period of March to May 2017.

So, what is truly killing Uganda’s tourism sector? Rising Global Temperatures due to immense carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by day and night. This means there is no magic bullet to restoring Uganda’s dwindling attraction except committed efforts that cut the amount of carbon we emit. This will also preserve tropical forests.

Promoting alternative renewable energy solutions will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 22 percent as Uganda already pledged in its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to UNFCCC. These efforts will increase the country’s tourism potential by restoring lasting beauty in a cooler planet where global temperatures are constrained below the 1.5-degree benchmark agreed in Paris Climate agreement.

 

 

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

   

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