6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are?

Environmental sustainability, sanitation and provision of safe water are key to meeting goal 7. (UNDP Uganda 2010)
  • Uganda has reduced its consumption of ozone depleting substances from 30.6 metric tonnes to 0.3 metric tonnes in the period between 2000 and 2010.

Uganda’s natural resource base is critical for social and economic development. Unfortunately, environmental data in Uganda, as in most developing countries, is poor and incomplete due to inadequate monitoring and reporting. National targets are also missing. This complicates an assessment of progress towards MDG targets 7.A and 7.B but through efforts, especially by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), to gather and disseminate information and data on Uganda’s environment, it is possible to provide a tentative assessment. The overall assessment is that, with progress in some areas and setbacks in others, progress towards targets 7.A and 7.B is slow.

When it comes to integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes, Uganda has made headway in recent years. The Government has established various policies, laws, institutions, regulations and standards to guide the management of natural resources. For instance, the National Environment Management Policy (1994) gave birth to the National Environment Statute (1995) and, among other things, instituted NEMA. Given that the management of environment and natural resources is decentralised in Uganda, the Ministry of Local Government has sought to mainstream environment and natural resources into the performance measures for all levels of local government. However, the implementation and level of compliance with environment and natural resource policies, laws, institutions, regulations, standards and guidelines are still considered very low, leading to the misuse and degradation of the environment.

Poverty and rapid population growth are the primary causes of biodiversity loss, threatening the existence of species, ecosystems and eco-regions throughout Uganda, and there are indications that the depletion of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity are accelerating. Indeed, the rate of biodiversity loss in Uganda was calculated in 2004 to be 10-11% per decade. The share of land covered by forest declined from 25% in 1990 to 18% in 2006. Moreover, the decline of fish species in Lake Victoria is considered to be the largest documented loss of biodiversity ever inflicted on an ecosystem by humankind, where 20 species of fish have been depleted in only the last 40 years, leaving only three species. Many major mammal species, such as rhinos, cheetahs, and oryx were destroyed during Uganda’s decades of internal strife in the 1970s and 1980s. Bird and fish species continue to decline in number and distribution throughout the country.

Sanitation and the provision of safe water remain a priority within the National Development Plan. Public investments in the sub-sectors for urban and rural water supply have yielded significant results in recent decades. The share of individuals with access to safe water has increased from 57% in 1999/2000 to 68% in 2005/2006. The Government is thus on course to meet its target of 89% access in 2014/2015, which is considered a much more ambitious target than the implied MDG target. Even if the share of the population in rural areas with access to safe water is lower than in urban areas, it is in the rural areas where progress has been greatest. Administrative data from the Directorate of Water Development Management Information System (DWD-MIS) shows that access to improved rural water supply has trebled, from 21% in 1991 to 63% in 2007. Assessment of progress towards access to safe sanitation facilities is complicated by differences in methodologies for measurement between various sources.

Special tabulations on the household survey data by UBOS suggest that the share of the urban population living in slums is on the decline. Slum dwellers were defined as urban population that live in dwellings made from temporary materials or without access to safe sanitation.

UNDP's work in Uganda

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums