Turning up the heat: climate change and poverty in Uganda

from Oxfam
Published on 30 Jun 2008 View Original

People in developing countries like Uganda, whose contribution to global warming has been miniscule, are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst.

Climatic changes are happening in Uganda. On the one hand there is more erratic rainfall in the March to June rainy season, bringing drought and reductions in crop yields and plant varieties; on the other hand the rainfall, especially in the later rains towards the end of the year, is reported as coming in more intense and destructive downpours, bringing floods, landslides and soil erosion.

This report examines the impacts of climate changes on agriculture, on pastoralism and on health and water. Climate shocks undermine health and well-being, the economy and the overall development of the country. Food insecurity in Uganda is a major challenge and climate shocks are making food insecurity worse. Impacts are greatest on the lives of ordinary people, and especially women, frustrating their efforts to overcome poverty.

Such things are happening when global average temperatures have not even exceeded a 1 degree centigrade rise above pre-industrial levels. As temperatures rise further, risks will be magnified.

The government of Uganda is planning how the country can adapt to climate change, and how these measures can be aligned to poverty reduction strategies. For a start, Uganda is beginning to look for nearly $US 40 million to implement immediate and urgent adaptation measures (it’s National Adaptation Programmes of Action, or NAPA). It is currently uncertain how much it will get from the international community. Yet this is in the context that, for example, a 2 degrees temperature rise would probably wipe out most of Uganda’s coffee production, upon which some five million people rely directly or indirectly, and which earns the country several hundred million dollars a year.