Mbale, Eastern Uganda - The Government of Uganda together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched small grants to help farmers in the mountainous Elgon region to tackle land degradation and reverse the impact of climate change.
The grants provided under UNDP’s “Integrated Landscape Management for Livelihoods Improvement and Ecosystems Resilience (ILM) project, will be administered through Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
At least 15 CBOs from three districts in Eastern Uganda including; Mbale, Bulambuli and Manafwa received grants totaling to 530 million shillings (approximately $142,368). The grants will be used to procure farm implements which will enable farmers to practice climate smart agricultural practices.
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Sempijja and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Rosa Malango, who was represented by Ms. Sarah Mujabi, the Programme Officer for Climate Change at the UNDP Uganda Country Office, launched the grants at Mbale District headquarters on July 3rd, 2018.
Each of the three districts local governments also received a Global Positioning System (GPS) to record coordinates of where the intervention has been done, along with a laptop, camera and printer to document and share their success stories.
In a speech read for her by Ms. Mujabi, the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Malango, pointed out that projects such as these were important to address the ruin caused by flooding and landslides which arises from land degradation and climate change which affects the peoples’ daily efforts to fight poverty and hunger and live healthy lives.
“You see this impact in the sorrow of a mother grieving for her near-to-harvest garden that has been washed away or in the tears of a desperate father who must rebuild after the family house was flattened by boulders in the wake of a landslide,” Ms Malango said.
Minister Sempijja and Ms. Mujabi, accompanied by the Mbale District Chairman, Mr Benard Mujaasi and several district and ministry officials also toured the Elgon landscape to witness first-hand the effects of land degradation and climate change on the livelihood of the communities.
“I have never seen something like this,” the Minister said as he inspected gardens in Bushiuyo village, Mbale district, where farmers have dug contours across the slope and planted grass to stop soil erosion.
The Minister was impressed that the implementation of the ILM project is at community level and that farmers are involved in finding solutions to the problems affecting them.
“I am happy to visit projects where people are involved in using scientific methods that can stop soil erosion and landslides,” Minister Sempijja observed.
He proposed that successes of the ILM project be documented and used to develop a template on sustainable land use, which should be distributed to every farmer in the country as a reference.
He also urged the local communities in the mountainous region susceptible to landslides and flooding, to implement the sustainable land use techniques learned under UNDP’s ILM project so that their farming is sustainable, and their land is protected.
“We must stop soil erosion, landslides and flooding to improve our agriculture for better yields,” the Minister said, adding that by trapping all the water from the mountain top, the communities are able to protect the soil’s nutrients from escaping hence boosting its fertility and productivity, hence boosting the farmers’ incomes.
Ms. Malango noted that the ILM project will help Uganda achieve Sustainable Development Goals one on no poverty, goal two on zero hunger), goal13 on climate action and goal 15 on life on land.
The project which started in 2017 will also help Uganda achieve her commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change to reduce 22 percent Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and to increase carbon sequestration.