The past 30 years in Uganda have been characterized by fluctuations in average temperature which have increased the vulnerability of the country to the impacts of climate change. The uncertainty of the projections makes it even more challenging, to design appropriate responses to adapt to future climate change risks, but this is not a reason for inaction.
The Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) of Edu Child Foundation Uganda is aimed at strengthening the capacities of rural communities in North-Western Uganda (Nebbi District) to build ecosystem resilience by adapting to options such as sustainable land management, agriculture, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems so as to reduce their vulnerability to climate change. We believe that addressing climate change impacts in rural communities (grass-roots level) through awareness-raising on its impact and collective community involvement in forging resilience is one step towards achieving sustainable development in the communities we serve.
To date, the environment in Uganda is still under threat from natural and man-made drivers of change. Forests have continuously been cleared, wetlands degraded and the environment polluted. There are host factors that have brought about such state of affairs including the widespread degradation of wetlands countrywide and these are unclear institutional mandate and linkages at all levels; weak enforcement capacity by the relevant institutions; lack of specific laws with sufficient enforcement provisions; inadequate financing; inadequate staffing at all levels; insufficient applied scientific information; rapid population growth; widespread poverty and improper physical planning; unclear boundary and legal definition of wetlands; need for compensation of wetland titleholders; political intervention and interference at both high and low levels; the trans-boundary nature of wetland systems, among others.
With all these challenges, Nebbi District has not been an exception as a lot of trees and other woody vegetation cover are increasingly being depleted through charcoal and brick burning, bush burning, cultivation, lumbering, and excessive tree cutting. Extreme cases of environmental degradation have been reported in Kucwiny, Akworo, and Parombo sub-counties; in addition to the fact that the district is still lagging behind in terms of tree planting compared to other districts in the West Nile. According to the 2014 District Local Government Assessment, it was noted that there was little effort by district leaders in promoting issues related to the environment.
In addition, access to and use of clean energy sources in most rural communities we serve has been a nightmare. Because of extreme poverty in these hard-to-reach communities, the available energy options provided by the government through the rural electrification programs seem to only favor a few well-to-do classes in the communities that can afford them. Consequently, in these communities (particularly within the parishes of Goli, Ayomo, Pawong, and Jupangira), over 90% of the households rely on firewood and charcoal for their household cooking or energy needs. This has had a number of implications: one is that the number of trees and vegetation has degraded over time because of the demand for firewood and charcoal, increasing the level of desertification and limited rainfall in the area. Secondly, as firewood and charcoal used as cooking fuel becomes scarcer, women and children from homes have to travel long distances of up to 10 kilometers from their homes in search of firewood. This also exposes them to safety and security risks, in addition to the production time wasted in long distances and to suffering health risks due to the huge emissions of carbon from the firewood they use in cooking.
Our involvement and efforts towards mitigating climate change in the communities we serve are directed in the following areas:
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
Since most of the communities we serve are predominantly agricultural in nature, CCAP efforts are geared towards responding to the needs of rural farmers, enabling them to improve their skills and increase their productivity through access to information and sustainable agricultural methods. Our priorities focus on crop productivity, diversification, and marketing as a means to increase household food security and raise household incomes. We also seek to promote enhanced family nutrition. CCAP provides capacity building; credit to farmers; small-scale business training; improved seeds; training in improved production techniques, post-harvest storage, and nutrition training. Edu Child Foundation Uganda’s traditional focus groups are farmer groups, cooperatives, and especially women’s groups.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION
Much of Edu Child Foundation Uganda’s work to protect and conserve the environment is within the context of its agricultural programs. Reforestation, soil restoration and conservation, land reclamation, tree planting, and village woodlots, and agroforestry are some of the interventions Edu Child Foundation Uganda is undertaking to preserve Uganda’s land and water resources. Edu Child Foundation Uganda is committed to working with communities to instill a greater understanding of the long-term, potentially negative consequences of environmental degradation and to engage them in sustainable natural resource management programs.
USE OF CLEAN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
In ensuring we are able to raise a generation of empowered children, women, and youth in Uganda, Edu Child Foundation Uganda has a strong commitment to increasing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, including the most vulnerable in the communities we serve. We believe that Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production, or increasing incomes, hence access to energy for all is essential. Transitioning the global economy including the hard-to-reach, towards clean and sustainable sources of energy is one of the greatest challenges we have committed to tackling in order to contribute towards positively transform lives, economies, and the planet. Through strategic partnerships, we hope to help in increasing access and use of electricity and clean fuels for cooking in all the local communities we operate in. Through awareness-raising and/or training, we hope to strengthen the capacity of communities on the usage of alternative clean energy sources such as solar, briquets, among others.