Environmental concerns cut across the globe irrespective of the age, creed, race and nationality thus combined efforts are inevitable to bring out meaningful and feasible environment conservation results. My wish is to call upon all environmental conservationist lovers who must make this globe a better place to live for the present and future generations to support my environment project. For further details , Please get in touch with: Mucungura Adeodato , Managing Director. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, +256 782 863472
. Problem Description
Poverty and its Effects on Environmental Management: Poverty is associated with a number of inter-related problems including rapid population growth, land degradation, and declining human health, agricultural productivity and water quality. Depletion of soil fertility via bio fixation and subsequent crop harvest, grazing, soil organic matter depletion and/or biomass burning exacerbate these problems and will not be resolved without joint and effective measures. The harsh weather conditions (long dry spells) and environmental mismanagement has led to destruction of the dense vegetation mainly in search for fuel wood.
Poverty and lack of knowledge about good environmental management practices means, households do not realize the effect their activities have on their environment “Sustainable economic and social development of Uganda largely depends on exploitation of its environment and natural resources. However, the increasing degradation of these resources [...] is beginning to have a serious negative impact on Uganda’s social and economic development.”
It is the rural poor, whose livelihoods are dependent on natural resources, who are most affected. Models predict a likely increase in the variability of rainfall, which are certain to affect agricultural production and food security. With 80% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture, unpredictable weather conditions are making people increasingly food insecure.
Unfortunately, programs focusing on community conservation of the environment have almost just been introduced in the area. Vulnerability to climate change in Uganda is due to heavy reliance on climate dependent resources such as rain fed agriculture, natural disasters and poverty (MAAIF, 2008). Changes in climate are already threatening Uganda’s ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them (Hepworth and Goulden, 2008). At the same time, adaptive and mitigation capacity is low due to shortages of economic resources and technologies. It is anticipated that, actually, Uganda’s vulnerability to climate change is likely to increase (MAAIF, 2008) unless long term solutions and interventions are embarked on.
Loss of natural vegetation: Currently, many of the natural vegetation in Lyantonde district that include trees and fragile ecosystems like wetlands are under attack due to human settlement and the need for agricultural land , firewood, charcoal and building materials (such as poles and roofing materials for construction of houses) by community. This has led to massive degradation, deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of natural habitat for fauna and disturbance of the hydrological cycle.
Further still, many households have the habit of cooking indoors using traditional open stoves against the advice from URUDO-Uganda insisting on energy saving stoves. There is considerable burning of biomass for cooking. Burning biomass for cooking inside their houses using traditional stoves is also a serious health concern especially for women and children.
Many farmers are cattle keepers thus it cannot be concretely ascertained what havoc they are causing to the environment of the places through clearing of trees to establish animal farms. Over 97% of the households in Lyantonde district cut trees for charcoal and fuel wood for cooking, lighting, beer distilling, firing bricks among other commercial purposes. Already the area is experiencing drastic changes in the weather patterns manifested in form of long dry spells, flooding and water logging.
The project intends to work with selected households to grow multipurpose trees that are fast growing to address the problem. It is envisaged that the trees planted by the households shall increase tree cover, improve soil, fuel wood for domestic and institutional consumption and reduce pressure on natural tree cover in the area. With the fast and increasing environmental degradation, it is unlikely that agriculture in its current forms will be able to support food and income requirements.
Low environmental awareness: There is also low environmental awareness among households. Most households do not equate sustainable natural resource management with better livelihoods and thus follow practices that lead to environmental degradation. Due to ignorance about environment conservation and management issues, households have continued to engage in environmentally threatening practices as a means of survival and ultimately putting pressure of the existing natural resources. As already highlighted above, natural vegetation that include trees and fragile ecosystems like wetlands are under attack due to the settlement and the need for agriculture, firewood, charcoal and building materials (such as poles and roofing materials for construction of houses) as well as for access roads among others.
The project will address the problem through various mechanisms geared towards sensitizing households within the three sub-counties in the district on the local and national laws in respect to environment and natural resource conservation and management. For example which practices are permitted and which are discouraged. Environment awareness activities will entail communicating rules and regulations and sound environment practices permitted in the district channeled through signs and posters, competitions, and environment clubs.
The problem of the three stone stoves: Wit¬h land becoming increasingly barren of trees and the continued use of inefficient cooking stoves, many women must walk up to several kilometers to collect firewood. Collecting firewood is not only physically demanding, but also involves high opportunity costs. Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan warns that longer walking distances are “increasing the burden on women’s time, with negative effects on their economic and domestic activities as well as the quality of their lives”.
Besides being environmentally damaging, traditional stoves produce a vast amount of unhealthy smoke into unventilated kitchens. According to the World Health Organization, indoor pollution in smoky huts/kitchen exceeds the European Union’s maximum standard for outdoor air pollution by a factor of sixty. In Lyantonde district households, women - the main home keepers - are exposed to serious health problems, including respiratory infections and eye diseases. Furthermore, due to having an open fire, the traditional stoves leave women and children vulnerable to burns, which can be painful and disfiguring.
The traditional three stone cooking stove, one of the oldest and most inefficient stoves in the world, transfers only approximately five percent of the energy of the wood to the cooking pot/sauce pan as heat. With the majority of households in the district using this traditional method of cooking, the rate of deforestation for firewood is unsustainable. For example, in three sub –counties namely: Lyantonde Rural, Kinnuka and Kaliiro, only 7.8% of households use energy saving technologies.
Inadequate commitment by the duty bearers: Inadequate commitment in the implementation of the existing policies by the local council authorities is one of other challenges that continue to affect all efforts directed towards conservation and management of the environment in the district. For instance local council authorities’ commitment to implementation of national policies like national environment management policy, national water policy, policy on conservation and management of wetlands etc is limited due to challenges related to coordination and capacity gaps. Unsatisfactory adherence and implementation of the above policies related to environment conservation and management by the local council has made the households continue to destroy the environment without any restraint within the district. This situation has, further, led to reduction in the area under natural tree cover within the district.
The capacity of local government structures, particularly the Forestry and Environment departments and Local Environment Committees, in Lyantonde Rural, Kaliro and Kinnuka Sub- Counties is low. Although plans and strategies regarding environmental sustainability and protection exist, resources, skills and capacity are lacking, meaning local governments are not achieving their potential and offering the services so desperately needed. This hinders development in the project area.
The project will seek to address the problem by engaging environment and natural resources staff, local government, district community development officers, agricultural officers to coordinate, implement and adhere to policies and commitment to delivery of government environmental protection and agricultural programmes. This shall be achieved through advocacy on budget allocation for environmental conservation, participation in implementation and information sharing.
It is on this basis that URUDO-Uganda has designed the one year Lyantonde Environmental Protection Project aimed at alleviating the above effects of environmental mismanagement. These will greatly improve on the environment resulting into increased food productivity for better nutrition and increased household income.