Uganda’s Economic Development: The Challenges and Opportunities of Climate Change - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
This portlet should not exist anymore
Human-induced climate change figures prominently in the discourse on the most pressing global issues of today. Due to increased level of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other polluting gases that are mostly produced due to human activity, the earth’s near surface temperatures have risen and will continue to rise in the decades to come.
As the temperatures rise, it is also expected that the sea levels will rise and that there will be an increased occurrence of extreme weather events such as droughts or floods – all phenomena that have increasingly been documented in the past few decades. Furthermore, climate change is likely to disrupt ecological systems and to have serious negative consequences for agricultural production, forests, water supply, health systems and overall human development.
Uganda, as a developing country, has a higher vulnerability to climate change than industrialised countries that have more resources at their disposal in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Some of the factors causing Uganda’s high vulnerability are a lack of skills on climate change adaptation and inadequate expertise and equipment for disaster management, limited financial resources, and poor urban planning. Therefore, on the one hand, the Ugandan population directly is highly vulnerable to the above mentioned possible changes in the climate of the country because of its heavy reliance on climate-dependent resources and economic sectors, such as tourism and rain-fed agriculture, on the other hand, the adaptation and mitigation capacity is very low due to a lack of respective technologies and economic resources. In the past, Uganda has experienced the adverse impacts of climate change for several times. Among these impacts are changes in rainfall patterns: rainfall has become lower, less reliable, and more unevenly distributed. Recent years have seen erratic onsets and ends to rainfall seasons, which generally have been heavier and more violent. Floods and landslides are on the rise and increasing in intensity and since 2000, extreme rainfall conditions have been regularly experienced in Eastern Uganda.
Even though, as seen on the examples above, there is evidence that climate change impacts directly on the Ugandan eco system, economy, and population, the will to initiate and implement mitigating measures on the side of the population and on that of political decision makers tends to be rather low. For the former this is the case because introducing environmentally friendly practices and protecting the environment often goes hand in hand with a reduction of short-term profits and can also be connected to higher production costs. For the latter the same is true, although on a bigger scale – which can for example be seen by the decision to turn Mabira Forest, the country’s largest forest reserve, partly into sugar cane plantations for the sake of generating revenue. As can be seen by these examples, climate change is not considered as crucial for development as short-term relief and alleviation of poverty – even at the expense of climate and environment. What is rarely discussed, are the negative impacts that climate change can and will have on the economic productivity of a country relying mostly on natural resources – be it in agriculture, tourism, or other economic sectors.
The publication that is going to be launched is part of the "Reality Check" series. Under the title "Reality Check" KAS Uganda regularly publishes studies and papers by Ugandan experts on political and economic issues in the country. Typically, publications within the “Reality Check” series give broad insight into the issue they cover and assess the situation that can be found in Uganda in a scientific and objective way. As such they have the potential to form the basis for informed dialogue and debate on all levels and within civil society, media, academia, and politics. Concerning the latest issue of the series, Dr. Kasimbazi states that “the main purpose of this paper is to analyse the linkage between climate change and economic development in Uganda. The paper explains how climate change and economic development are associated with each other, while focusing on the resulting challenges and opportunities that emerge from having a more integrated approach.” His work covers an oversight on climate change and the geographic and economic features and situation in Uganda, an assessment of Uganda’s climate change vulnerability, a description of the impacts climate change has had on economic development in Uganda so far, a description and analysis of the political and institutional framework that is in place in order to tackle the challenge of climate change, an analysis of climate change projects and challenges to their implementation, and finally recommendations on how climate change opportunities could be used in order to achieve sustainable economic development in Uganda. With this outline, the publication provides a perfect basis for discussions on the way forward for economic development in Uganda in the face of climate change. It closes a gap in the public discourse on climate change by not putting mitigation of climate change and economic development as mutually exclusive policy options, but instead emphasising that the latter depends to a certain degree on the former.
By launching the publication in an official function, the participants, consisting of representatives of media, civil society, academia, and politics, will have the opportunity to not only get to know about the publication as such and its contents, but to also use the opportunity for starting a dialogue on the theme of the Reality Check. As the participants are considered to be multipliers of political and civic education, they then have the possibility to reach different groups of people and raise awareness on the issues outlined above and their importance for the economic and social development of Uganda.