Building Resilient Communities, Wetland Ecosystems and Associated Catchments in Uganda Project

What is the project about?

UNDPUg18 - Limoto wetland2Limoto wetland in Pallisa district, Eastern Uganda, is one of the wetlands this project will focus on. (PhotoCredit: MWE 2017).

The ‘Building Resilient Communities, Wetland Ecosystems and Associated Catchments in Uganda Project,’ is an integrated multi sector initiative aimed at restoring wetlands and increasing the resilience of both ecosystems and the communities living close to the wetland areas.

Wetlands are areas of land that are permanently or seasonally saturated with water. In Uganda, these include marshes, swamps and bogs and they are among the most important natural resources the country is bestowed with. They occur all over Uganda and cover an area of 11 per cent of the land area. These wetlands can be found around some of the major lakes and rivers such as the Lake Wamala wetland system around the Lake Victoria Basin, the Namatala-Doho wetland around Lake Kyoga, the Wetlands of River Semliki around Lake Albert, Enyau Wetland around the Albert Nile section of River Nile and the Achwa wetland catchment around Achwa River among others.

Wetlands are important for protecting the country’s water sources and sustaining agricultural productivity. During the dry season, their fringes support the production of short term crops like; vegetables and potatoes for household subsistence and pasture for animals.  Wetlands also support artisanal fisheries and provide breeding grounds for large scale fisheries.

In this era of climate change, wetlands have key for regulating flooding and removing pollutants from storm surface runoff before the water enters lakes and other water bodies. Consequently, they play a critical role of continuously re-charging of ground water sources.  In spite of their importance, wetlands in Uganda are facing severe encroachment, over exploitation and degradation. Population growth is a major threat; creating increased demand for water, land for agriculture and settlements.  This has subsequently increased encroachment on the fragile river banks, the swathes of urban and rural wetlands leading to various disasters such as flooding.

Over the last 15 years however, Uganda has lost over 30% of the wetlands. The declining capacity for wetlands to provide critical ecosystem services has resulted:

  • Increased flooding (damage to infrastructure, lives)
  • Reduced productivity
  • Silting of water bodies – effect on fisheries
  • Increased water treatment costs for the national water supply agency
  • Increased conflicts
  • Distorted micro climates which has affected dry season farming in various parts of the country
  • Increased Green House Gases emissions

Through this wetlands restoration project, UNDP and the Government of Uganda have kick started long term efforts to restore and protect the country’s wetlands as well as provide alternative livelihoods to communities living close to them. This it is hoped will increase the country’s resilience in the face of climate change impacts.

Project objective

The main goal of this project is to restore and sustainably manage wetlands and support target communities in wetland areas of Uganda to reduce the risks of climate change posed to agricultural-based livelihoods.

Its specific objectives include;

  • Supporting targeted communities to improve their food security and reduce pressures on the wetlands ecosystems they depend on currently for many of their basic needs
  • Providing  significant and transformational livelihoods to support target communities in Uganda to save lives and reduce the risks posed on agricultural-based livelihoods.
  • Rehabilitating wetlands and their hydrology in the target area as a means of reducing risk to flooding and drought associated with climate change and variability.
  • Strengthening the existing meteorological information system so that it can be used by local- and National -level stakeholders, reducing their exposure to the impacts of climate change.
  • Strengthening Institutional and policy capacity for mainstreaming climate risk management and adaptation measures into planning and decision-making processes.
  • Increasing the adaptive capacity of local communities in the project area through the introduction of agro ecological practices that help reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
  • Strengthening  institutional systems for improved coordination and management of the wetlands.

Project Focus: The project will focus on restoring wetlands, agricultural land, forest and rangelands through various interventions including; climate smart agriculture and bio diversity conservation among others. It also will provide support to communities in the targeted areas to sustainable use their wetlands and the areas surrounding them.  It emphasises four key elements;

  • Restore critical wetlands to improve ecosystem services such as ground water recharge, flood control, fishing and agriculture for enhanced livelihoods to the most vulnerable subsistence farming communities.
  • Diversify livelihood options and make agriculture more resilient to climate shocks, by enhancing the skill set of beneficiaries especially women and youth for employability and adaptation.
  • Empower communities in sensitive wetland areas in risk reduction and preparedness   to climate-related   disasters through participatory and decentralised early warning systems and capacity development for implementing disaster risk reduction measures.
  • Protect important wetlands that provide water for domestic and productive activities; waste treatment and flood control.

Project Implementation

The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment, with Financial and Technical support from the Global Climate Fund (GCF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will implement the project. The project is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries (MAAIF) and Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA).

Project implementation areas: The project will be implemented in 20 selected districts in Eastern and the Western Uganda where wetland degradation has been severe.   These include; Pallisa, Kibuku, Bukedea, Namutumba,  Butaleja, Budaka, Tororo, Kaliro, Ngora and Mbale in Eastern Uganda  and Kabale Kisoro, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Mitooma, Sheema, Rubirizi and Ntungamo in South Western Uganda.

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