Water and Climate change

New project involves communities in Ecosystem and Landscape restoration

Given the multiple threats of climate change, communities are in need of ecosystem restoration methods that also help to build economic resilience and reduce poverty. This is what the Resilience for People and Landscapes Programme (REPLAP) is all about.

The REPLAP programme was recently launched by the Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Directorate of Water Resources Management, The Water Resources Authority (WRA) from Kenya, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and partners at a ground breaking ceremony in Lira District, Northern Uganda.

Alex Olemarot, the Chairman for Lira District says: “Our communities already have long-term relationships with their natural resources. We depend on natural resources for our livelihood. Situations such as floods and drought affect our household income, food security and water supply. We must involve communities in managing the landscapes thoughtfully for the benefit of both the ecosystem and the society.”

THE REPLAP Programme which is funded by the Austrian Development Agency builds on lessons from the Building Drought Resilience (BDR) project implemented in Aswa and Tana landscapes in Northern Uganda and North Eastern Kenya respectively.

Both landscapes are exposed to the negative impact of climate change including deforestation, soil erosion, floods and drought.

The initial phase of the project under BDR worked with communities to establish local level governance structures to support management of natural resources.

The REPLAP programme will help to link these governance structures with national governance systems and assist communities and governments to reduce the level of emergencies resulting from climate related disasters, while building communities resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The REPLAP programme is timely

“As government we aim to address the root causes of the emergencies emanating from droughts and floods. We already have sub catchment management plans in place. The REPLAP project is timely as it supports our strategy of reaching the most vulnerable communities, building their resilience and enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate change,” Said Abdi Noor Dubow, Country Drought Coordinator for Garissa County in Kenya.

According to Mr Olemarot, communities in Lira District have witnessed tremendous transformation from the previous phase of the project. He says: “My people relied a lot on subsistence agriculture. They used to cultivate along streams, wetlands and even in river beds. This caused severe deterioration of the catchment and brought tension among the different water users including domestic, cattle keeping and agricultural. Poverty also caused people to cut the shea butter trees and produce charcoal for sale.”

What do communities remember most from the previous phase of the project?

“Most community members were enrolled into the Community Environment Conservation Fund (CECF) as part of the project. Each village was assigned a fixed amount to enable its members to access micro credit, on condition of the community's commitment to the sustainable management of natural resources within their territory. In particular, the community members committed to restore water sources, stop cutting the shea butter tree, plant more vegetation and trees etc,” says 67 year old George Ayoo, the Team leader for Orit Parish, in Lira District.

I borrowed 90 000 Uganda Shillings from the fund” says Sam, a 50 year old farmer from Orit Parish. “With the money, I bought few chicken and goats. I bred them and now I have 40 chicken, 34 goats and 3 pigs. I also have 50 lemon fruit trees, and I train my community members on how to manage seedlings.”

“In the past we had negative views on conservation. We used to cut the Shea nut trees to make charcoal which we sold at the market to buy food. Now we know the importance of the Shea nut tree, we take care of it and use the nuts to process various products. The negative practices were reduced with education and engagement but we still need to eradicate them completely,” says Betty Achen, an entrepreneur and Women Representative from Arwotngo Parish in Lira.

“Improving the productivity of the rangelands ecosystem cannot happen without increasing peoples’ capacity to manage the different components of the ecosystem REPLAP will involve all partners,”

Sophie Kutegeka, IUCN Uganda Country representative

I am excited at the way the communities have taken charge in managing their water resources and landscape. REPLAP will build on these gains so that we can pass these results to the future generations!
Engineer Gaetano, Assistant commissioner, Water Resources, Regulation & Planning

Testimonies from communities in Uganda and Kenya. Thanks to BDR, they are using natural solutions to help tackle environmental challenges efficiently.

Testimonies from communities in Uganda and Kenya. Thanks to BDR, they are using natural solutions to help tackle environmental challenges efficiently.