A private sector led initiative named Restore Africa that will enable atleast 350,000 farming households in Uganda to be more climate resilient has been launched.
Restore Africa will work in 36 districts to improve degraded farms in Southwestern Uganda, Karamoja and Mount Elgon regions.
This initiative worth shs86.5 billion funded by Climate Asset Management through the Global EverGreening Alliance together with a consortium of agencies led by Catholic Relief Services, with CARE International, Eco Trust, Uganda Landcare Network, World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF) and World Vision will see a total of 560,000 hectares of forests restored in five years.
“A combination of climate change and environmental degradation have had a great impact on not only Uganda but the world at large. What we need to do now is to act in order to stop the climate crisis we are in now by reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere. With this program to be implemented for the next five years, we want to see 352500 household farmers have green and sustainable livelihoods to Ugandan smallholder farmers, while contributing to Uganda’s NDP3, Vision 2040, and the fight against climate change,” said Niek de Goeij, Chief of Party for the project in Uganda.
According to Joy Tukahirwa, the national coordinator of the Uganda Landcare Network, the extend of land degradation in the country is very big and this has had so much effects.
“Data shows that 58% of the land is degraded and 16% is severely degraded. By the 1950s, Uganda’s forest cover was at 49% but is now at only 13%. This means the forest cover which protected the land has been removed making the country very very vulnerable,” Tukahirwa said.
“By 1955, the whole top of Rwenzori Mountain was covered with glaciers but these have almost all gone. There are now a few. We want to put farmers at the centre of tree planning to ensure we restore the environment in a bid to avoid the adverse effects of degradation.”
She noted that climate change and land degradation are linked, noting that these two problems have led to food insecurity and soil fertility loses which have seen many Ugandans suffer.
According to Dr.Jonathan Muriuki, the interim director for Restore Africa , Nairobi,the program will target smallholder farmers and in rural areas who are mostly affected by climate change.
“We want to help them restore the environment by planting traditional indigenous but also fruit trees. The farmers will be at the centre of this program. The restoration process, however, is not about just planting trees. Across the 36 districts, the Restore Africa technical support teams will work with farming communities to upgrade and improve existing agroforestry practices and integrate trees into various farming systems to improve soil and water management and contribute to improved livelihoods,”Dr.Muriuki said.
” In the high production areas of Southwest Uganda, farmers will integrate trees that support and enhance their production systems and value chains. For example improved shade management in coffee and banana farming system. Farmers will also explore options to plan fruit trees, and flowering trees to provide shade and build secure boundary fences in vanilla farms.”
He noted that in the savannah areas of Karamoja, Restore Africa, will work to use trees in reducing soil water loss and improve pasture management.
“All this work will contribute to reducing erosion, improving crop yields, promoting crop diversification and creating new employment opportunities particularly for women and youth.”
According to Steven David Mugabi, the director in charge of environment affairs in the Ministry of Water and Environment, the new program will help complement already existing government programs.
“We applaud you and your partners for this initiative which looks at the future of this country. It is adding on the already existing programs by the government of Uganda. All these efforts are important for Uganda,”Mugabi said.
The Restore Africa project in Uganda, is part of a much larger program that will restore 1.9 million hectares of land, supporting 1.5 million smallholder farming families across six countries – Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.