Environment and Ecosystem Health

Uganda is located in the East African Plateau, lying mostly between latitudes 4°N and 2°S and longitudes 29° and 35°E. It lies, on average, at about 1100 metres above sea level and slopes steadily downwards to the north. Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from the lake into Lake Kyoga, into Lake Albert and then runs northwards into South Sudan. Uganda’s total surface area is about 241,038 KM² of which 197,610 KM² (or 82%) is land, and 18.2% comprises of water bodies and wetlands (NEMA, 2001).

The environment provides essential material assets and an economic base for human endeavor. These natural assets (water, soils, plants and animals, biomass and biodiversity among others) underpin people’s livelihoods. They produce a range of goods and services that yield income, offer safety nets for the poor, maintain public health, and power economic growth. However, poor management of environmental assets, poor control of environmental hazards such as pollution, and inadequate response to environmental challenges such as climate change, threaten development.

Global change drivers such as population growth, economic activities and consumption patterns, are increasingly placing pressure on the environment.  As a result, there is legitimate concern today about the rise in incidence of environmental problems such as drought, floods, loss of soil fertility, and unsustainable exploitation and incremental destruction of biodiversity. Environment Degradation is undermining development and threatens future development progress. According to NEMA (1995), in spite of Uganda’s high natural resource potential, factors such as population growth, economic reforms, the desire for a steady increase in per capita income and other development processes are putting a severe strain on the ENRs. Environment Degradation has also been linked to human disease health problems including some types of cancers, vector-borne diseases, emerging animal-to-human disease transfer, nutritional deficits and respiratory illnesses.

Since inception, RCRA focused its interventions on increasing household food security,  improving healthcare, entrepreneurship alternatives, agricultural production and marketing to increase incomes among people of Rwenzori, promoting environment and natural resources governance, improving water, sanitation and hygiene, institutional capacity development, action research, advocacy and water governance. RCRA environment and ecosystem activities contribute to  building the resilience and adaptive capacity of communities to climate changes. Strategic program areas include catchment based natural resources management, operational research , interventions that reduce GHG emissions integrated to enhance local development, improved access to clean and renewable energy, and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.

We are using an integrated approach of population, health and environment to minimize the impact of environmental shocks and stresses

Additionally, We promote tree planting and climate resilient interventions including prevention of land degradation, conservation of game parks, prevention and management of forest fires and community anti-poaching.

Protection of Rivers in the Albertine Rift hotspot

The River Semuliki and its catchment area is shared between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is originating from the Central African Mountains of Nyamulangira in the DRC, flows through Lake Edward, enters the rift valley floor in the DRC on the western side of the Rwenzori Mountains to the north eastern end of the mountains where it becomes the frontier of the international boundary between Uganda and the DRC after which it discharges into Lake Albert.

River Semuliki is one of the most important rivers that form Uganda’s natural drainage system. It starts from Lake Edward and is joined by many tributaries along its 140 kms journey before pouring into Lake Albert. In the first 40 kms, the river passes through a heavily forested national park. While it’s remaining distance to Lake Albert in inhabited by the Batuku pastoral community, practicing communal grazing of large stocks of animals, draining wetlands for Agriculture, watering animals along the river banks which have degraded hence continuously eroding increasing incidences of flooding in the plains, depositing large amounts of silt in the river and into Lake Albert. Incidences of flooding in Ntoroko are un countable resulting in destruction of property, causing death of people and animals. Scholars show that the Southern part of the lake is shallower possibly due to silting. The evidence from Landsat TM image of 2000, Spot image of 1980 and MSS image of 1973 all show that the shoreline is shifting southwards. The Delta at the mouth of the river is due to siltation and it is expanding at a rate of 3.5km/year into the lake. Over the years, river Semuliki has continued to change course as a result of degradation. If this trend is not checked, it may lead to border conflicts and disasters.