Uganda Joins the Climate Change Loop

<div class="at-above-post addthis_tool" data-url=""></div>In recognition of the danger of ignoring climate change and in the fulfillment of their obligation to the United Nation’s Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC)...
Mantaining the Uganda food basket. Photo by: Arne Hoel

In recognition of the danger of ignoring climate change and in the fulfillment of their obligation to the United Nation’s Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a signatory, Uganda finally submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) on the 14th October, 2015, just in time for the Bonn Negotiations in Germany leading up to the COP21 Paris agreement later this year.

In its INDC, Uganda prioritizes adaptation to climate change. Mitigation is also part of the direction Uganda seeks to pursue however adaptation takes precedence because as a country highly dependent on natural resources including climate change, there is crucial need to reduce vulnerability to the climate change events that have already overwhelmed the locals. Women, children and the elderly are particularly the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as food insecurity, water shortage and fuel wood scarcity.

Escalating matters is the predicted population outburst that is estimated to grow to an alarming 93.4 million by the 2040s from the current 34.8 million today as per the 2014 census. At its current population, Uganda is one of the least contributors to the world greenhouse emissions, emitting only 1.39 tons of the carbon dioxide way below the global average of 7.99 tons. However by 2030 (about 20 years from today), Uganda’s emissions are estimated to sky rocket to an equivalent of 77.3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

In its commitment therefore, Uganda strives to address adaptation to agriculture, livestock, forestry, infrastructure which includes mainly human settlements and transportation. This is majorly due to the fact that in the absence of adaptation, Uganda’s INDC intimates that costs will shoot up to an impossible sum of between $270-330 billion over the next 40 years. Uganda being a poor country with very high vulnerability to climate change, it cannot afford the risk.

Another threat is projected in the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report which asserts that temperatures in Uganda will increase by 2⁰C by the 2050s which will witness a significant reduction in the amount of rainfall particularly over Lake Victoria, Uganda and East Africa’s biggest lake. As an agricultural country, adaptation must therefore cover problems surrounding water supply, energy, health, Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

In Uganda’s opinion, scaling up the above mentioned areas will ably increase resilience at the grassroots level especially since the agriculture is essentially the country’s backbone and yet it is the most affected of all.

In regard to mitigation, Uganda intends to focus on implementation of policies and measures that will influence energy supply, forestry and wetland conservation.

In fact, it is notable to highlight that Uganda is not just intending to focus on these implementations in the future. Uganda is already at work and its efforts have already been recognized and even certified for emission reductions in Africa. Through the on-going UNFCCC negotiations, parties agreed that developed countries should be paid carbon credits for absorbing greenhouse gases.

For its effort, Uganda became the first country in Africa to recently earn $215,135 in the climate mitigation program by implementing “municipal waste composting” in at least 8 municipalities thereby absorbing 16,549 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The country’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), which coordinates this program, boasts that managing compost is significant to sustainable development benefits like positive health impacts. For example in the western Uganda, the funds from the carbon credits are being used to build a health center to improve access to health and medical care.

This compost program also supports community based activities by providing clean and safe water through the construction of shallow wells, rain water harvesting tank and training locals on water management. In eastern Uganda, the program is working on improving access to sustainable energy through the use of improved charcoal cook stoves for homes and schools.

Basically what happens is that these carbon credits are sold to the World Bank’s Community Development Carbon Fund which creates a revenue stream for the program.

Uganda’s INDC implementation strategy

Uganda intends to closely monitor climate change activities to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of National Climate Change Policy (NCCP). This will be monitored on an annual basis with information from the various ministries reported to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and copied to Ministry of National Planning Authority and Climate Change Department to make an annual report. After the first 5 years of implementation of the NCCP, an independent evaluation is planned for and the recommendations will be fitted into the revision of the climate change policy through a public consultation process.

Uganda particularly highlights its commitment to fulfilling its strategies. It enunciates that cumulated efforts will lead to a 22% reduction of national GHG emissions in 2030 compared to business as usual levels.

Uganda estimates that its national resources will cover at least 30% of incremental costs of activities in the next 15 years. However as one of the least developed countries, Uganda will be relying on international forces for the remaining 70%.

Notwithstanding, Uganda in its long term plan intends to follow a climate resilient and low carbon development path linked to green growth and broader sustainable development goals. Not forgetting, Uganda promises that its INDCs will be implemented alongside and in high regard to observation of human rights and gender sensitivity.

Agodo Shabella Patience

Agodo Shabella Patience is a Ugandan Lawyer with keen interest on the Environment and Climate change. She is the founder and Executive Director of Green Teso Initiative a climate change Advocacy NGO based in Eastern Uganda.
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