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FEATURE: Bold new approach to climate adaptation in rural Uganda


The CDKN-supported project Action for Climate ChangeClimate change is a lasting change in weather patterns over long periods of time. It can be a natural phenomena and and has occurred on Earth even before people inhabited it. Quite different is a current situation that is also referred to as climate change, anthropogenic climate change, or ... Resilience in Africa (ACCRA) brightens prospects for remote communities in Uganda, as World Vision’s Margaret Barihaihi reports.

Bundibugyo is a mountainous district in the western region of Uganda. The steep mountainous terrain is prone to immense soil erosion, which ends up in destructive landslides, making some places inaccessible. The district has suffered disastrous landslides every 30‐ 40 years and periodic floodingThe overflowing of the normal confines of a stream or other body of water, or the accumulation of water over areas that are not normally submerged. Floods include river (fluvial) floods, flash floods, urban floods, pluvial floods, sewer floods, coastal floods, and glacial lake outburst floods ..., but the trend of the recent years indicates an increased frequency in these events, associated with climate change. Poor agricultural practices such as massive tree-clearing, bush burning, and an absence of soil conservation structures such as terraces, only make the disasters worse.

In 2010, CDKN supported ACCRA to do community-level research and an analysis of capacity gaps. In Bundibugyo district, the study found that existing development plans do not reflect the communities’ challenges regarding climate variabilityClimate variability refers to variations in the mean state and other statistics (such as standard deviations, statistics of extremes, etc.) of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the ..., disasters and change. This is important because the district development plan is a key instrument in determining the extent of resource allocation: both for local revenue and national resources.

Disconnect between national and district planning

Why had district planning failed to capture climate-related challenges? Among other factors, they did not connect with and benefit from key national frameworks, including proposed interventionsProject is an intervention designed to achieve specific objectives within specified resources and implementation schedules, often within the framework of a broader program. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) in the Disaster Management Policy and the National Adaptation Programmes of ActionThe purpose of developing a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) is to identify the urgent and immediate needs of a country to adapt to the present threats from climate change. Addressing these needs will expand the current coping range and enhance resilience in a way that will promote ... (NAPAThe purpose of developing a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) is to identify the urgent and immediate needs of a country to adapt to the present threats from climate change. Addressing these needs will expand the current coping range and enhance resilience in a way that will promote ...). District personnel were neither aware of, nor participated in, the development of the national policies.  ACCRA also found that planning was being done in isolation of line ministries with no technical support. Even at district level each of the 11 sectors were planning independent of each other.

More so, climate change-related issues were expected to be handled by one district sector, the natural resources team, which was also the least funded. The funds from central government are conditional grants that map to five national priorities and it is difficult to channel such funds to address emerging crises.  Consequently, the district is left with limited choices but to focus its energy on national funded priorities, putting aside its localised problems.

Building capacity for disaster risk managementProcesses for designing, implementing, and evaluating strategies, policies, and measures to improve the understanding of disaster risk, foster disaster risk reduction and transfer, and promote continuous improvement in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery practices, with the explicit ... and linking the national to the local

As part of its capacity building activities, ACCRA facilitated a field visit to communities in Bundibugyo District for six key representatives of national ministries. The visit was aimed at increasing national level government officials’ understanding of climate change adaptation issues on the ground, thereby strengthening the linkages between national and local level government. “The visit to Bundibugyo allowed us to see the impact of climate change and understand what is needed”, commented Annunciata Hakuza, Ministry of AgricultureCultivation of the ground and harvesting of crops and handling of livestock, the primary function is the provision of food and feed.. “The research results will help inform our future policy”.

ACCRA also funded training of the district planning teams on integrating climate change adaptationAdjustments in human and natural systems, in response to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects, that moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. (IPPC)  and disaster risk reductionDenotes both a policy goal or objective, and the strategic and instrumental measures employed for anticipating future disaster risk; reducing existing exposure, hazard, or vulnerability; and improving resilience (IPCC-SREX, 2014). (DRR) into their sector plans, which were later integrated into the five year District Development Plan. The planning exercise was facilitated by representatives from ministries of WaterClimate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass ... and Environment – Meteorology Department and Local Government, the National Agricultural Research Organisation and the Office of Prime Minister. For the first time, all eleven sectors and specific department heads in the district gathered to discuss and plan together. The result was a comprehensive five-year District Development Plan (2011-2015) integrating climate change adaptationAdjustments in human and natural systems, in response to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects, that moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. (IPPC) and DRRDenotes both a policy goal or objective, and the strategic and instrumental measures employed for anticipating future disaster risk; reducing existing exposure, hazard, or vulnerability; and improving resilience (IPCC-SREX, 2014). measures.

Jockas Matte, the District Senior Environment Officer commented: “Before, my colleagues thought that climate change was just an environmental issue. Now all of us planned together, as a result, we now have a plan that to addresses climate change and we share responsibility”. The district staff found that it was possible to plan and implement adaptation and DRR activities within existing budget frameworks.

Top marks for Bundibugyo District’s disaster and adaptation planning

As a result, Bundibugyo scored highly on the annual assessment of its Development Plan by the Ministry of Local Government in 2011. It was awarded a score of 9 out of 10 on the performance indicatorA performance indicator or key performance indicator is a type of performance measurement. An organization may use KPIs to evaluate its success, or to evaluate the success of a particular activity in which it is engaged. These assessments often lead to the identification of potential ... on “Integration of environmental issues” (compared to 6 out of 10 in the previous auditAn audit is an independent, objective quality assurance activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to assess and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control ...). This resulted in the district receiving a financial bonus of 20% on its budgetary allocation from the central government for that year.

The Chief Administrative Officer noted that, “with support from ACCRA and the links it helped create with Ministry of Water and Environment, we have been able to attract additional NAPA funding of 123 million Uganda Shillings”. It is anticipated that implementation of the NAPA will touch the livelihoodsSustainable livelihood includes job opportunities that are of a non-invasive type, and exclude extensive felling, heavy fishery, mono-cultures and other activities than permanently harm the environment; it also includes an lifestyle that takes care of any gives assets, such as fresh water or ... of the most vulnerable. Some of the planned activities include soil and water conservation i.e. terraces, tree planting, formulation of by-laws, fuel saving stoves, and learning visits, as well as awareness raising.

The national Meteorology Department has shown interest in addressing the lack of a weatherWeather refers to the state of the atmosphere with regard to temperature, cloudiness, rainfall, wind, and other meteorological conditions. (UKCIP) station in the district. The last weather data was recorded in 1959!  Working together with the World Meteorology Organisation, the department has planned to install three weather stations for Ruwenzori region in which Bundibugyo is located.

Bundibugyo District has become a learning lab for Ministries, and neighbouring districts whose officials have closely followed the process. “ACCRA has had a profound impact on our District” reported David Okuraja. “Our district has generally been viewed as isolated, affected by war and stigmatised by disease outbreaks(health etc.) such as cholera and ebola. Few national level decision makers ever came here. But ACCRA helped put Bundibugyo on the map. Now we talk directly to Ministers!”

 

Photo courtesy of Margaret Barihaihi of World Vision and CDKN

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