Governance Body for the EBA Project in Uganda holds its second meeting

Jul 4, 2014

Mr. Samuel Chemusto, the District Natural Resources Officer, Kween district showing the National Steering Committee members one of the gardens where a farmer has put in place trenches to control soil erosion & increase water retention (Photo Credit: Monica Aturinda/UNDPUganda2014).

KAPCHORWA - The National Steering Committee of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation Project for Mountain Elgon Ecosystem in Uganda has held its second meeting this year to follow up on the progress of the project and discuss a way forward on promoting sustainable use of natural resources by the communities in the Mountain Elgon region.

The Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) project is an emerging approach that helps people living in diverse ecosystems or different types of environments to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. It involves the use of biodiversity which is the variety of life in a particular habitat and ecosystem services to help communities adapt to the changing climate patterns hence increase their resilience and reduce their vulnerability to the impact of climate change.

 “Climate change is now a real threat to the mountainous ecosystems and the services that they provide to the communities that live in them. Its therefore important to have programmes such as these that protect them,”  Mr. Paul Mafabi, Director of Environment affairs, Ministry of Water and Environment and also Chairman of the inter-ministerial National Steering Committee (NSC) said in his opening remarks.

In Uganda, the EBA project was conceived out of the realization that climate change impacts are already affecting the function and reliability of mountain ecosystems, which are already suffering the stress resulting from unsustainable land use practices by the communities living on them.  The project is aimed at strengthening the capacities of Uganda to strengthen ecosystem resilience for promoting Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) options.

The Mt Elgon ecosystem is particularly vulnerable to re-current flooding and landslides as evidenced in Butaleja and Bududa in 2010.This is due to high population densities leading to land shortages that have restricted livelihoods.

The NSC noted that one of the project’s key outputs has been the Vulnerability Impact Assessment (VIA) tool which is being used to forecast future climate variability and recommend strategic priorities for monitoring and management of the climate change impact. A much needed tool to help the region prepare for any climate change related disasters.

“I call upon all those implementing the project to use the VIA tool to support decision making related to climate adaptation options suggested  for  the Mt Elgon communities to effectively address the impact of climate change  that is continuously becoming a threat in this area,” said Patience Lily  Alidri, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Assistant Country Director.

Apart from using the tool, Ms. Patience Alidri also urged project stakeholders to document all the lessons learnt from the EBA project since its inception so that they can be used to help other similar interventions to manage climate change. She encouraged the district project management teams to spearhead the documentation process since they have a better understanding of the region’s needs and would be able to carry its successes on even after the project has ended.

As part of their policy guidance and monitoring role, the NSC team visited some project sites to follow up on progress of the project within the communities. One of the project sites visited was Benet Sub-County in Kween district where the River Ngenge catchment is degraded due to the poor farming methods which has led to the silting of River Ngenge. Community members are being trained on how to control this erosion through use of trenches along slope gradients and napier grass which stop both the water and soil run off downhill.

During the visits, the team was informed of the innovation of the Community Environment Conservation Fund (CECF), with the intention of helping communities in the region engage in activities that protect and put less pressure on the land such as tree planting, using napier grass and other Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) techniques.

This fund will be rolled out through community groups that have received training in conservation agricultural methods that protect their land and river banks close to their land.

Ms. Caren Blume, the deputy head of cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Uganda, whose government funds the project through their Climate Initiative, asked those implementing the project to ensure that this fund will not only protect the land but also improve the livelihoods of those who receive it in a holistic manner.

The UNDP coordinated, four year EBA project is a partnership between the Ministry of Water & Environment - Government of Uganda, UNDP, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) implemented in the Mt Elgon region districts of Kapchorwa, Kween, Bulambuli and Sironko, which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Building Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) to a tune of USD2, 356,149. 

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