ResilientAfrica Network, East Africa RILab, Uganda
Pathways to resilience for communities affected by recurrent adverse climate events and recovery from chronic conflict in Uganda
- BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF THE RESILIENCE CHALLENGE The resilience thematic issue of focus for RAN’s EARILab
Uganda is faced with a number of shocks/stresses that affect the resilience of communities. Through an extensive literature review, RAN identified two priority thematic issues of focus for resilience interventions in communities in Uganda: (1) resilience to the adverse effects of climate variability in the region; and (2) resilience to acute and chronic conflict and its effects in the region. To foster a deeper understanding of the resilience issues at play in the communities, RAN identified four priority communities affected by the priority resilience challenges: recurrent floods and landslides as a result of heavy rains in Mt. Elgon region; recurrent floods alternating with long dry spells and drought in Teso regions; epidemics and floods in the Albertine region; and the effects of chronic war and slow economic recovery in the Northern region.
Description of the resilience challenge: Adverse climate events in Uganda
Adverse climate events: The Eastern Africa region faces recurrent shocks and stresses arising from climate variability. The majority of communities in Uganda are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture, a predominant of which is characterized by small holding subsistence agriculture, mono-cropping, use of poor methods of production (Gollin and Rogerson, 2010, Urama and Ozor, 2010). Adverse events are characterized by heavy destructive rains in some months and insufficient rain and lengthy dry spells in others, while some regions oscillate between both. Current evidence shows that average rainfall is increasing in the wetter regions and reducing in the drier ones (Hepworth and Goulden, 2008). The immediate hazards arising out of these climate events include rapid and slow-onset floods in the low lying plains, landslides in mountainous areas, and drought and crop failure in the semi-arid areas. The effects of these phenomena are similar as the destruction of crops and livestock output which impact directly on livelihoods in all of these regions.
Recovery from chronic conflict: Northern Uganda has lagged behind on most human development indicators despite attempts at fast-tracking the pace of recovery from a 2-decades chronic conflict that devastated the region. This has been partly attributed to lack of viable livelihood opportunities for this particular community. The insurgency led to massive displacements of communities and encampment. Many of the communities were left homeless for decades. The return of peace in this region led to resettlement of communities back on their ancestral land but many could not verify their discrete land boundaries, and this has affected the communities’ livelihoods. Additionally, due to encampment, many of the families depended on aid, much of which came from local and
international Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Upon resettlement back into the community, the people had no alternative sources of viable livelihoods. Many resumed subsistence agriculture where they depend on a narrow range of crops which they use both for household subsistence, as well as income generation when they sell part of their produce.
Different stakeholders (government and non-government) have implemented a number of interventions in the affected regions with varying success, but the overall resilience of the affected populations is still lacking. Measures like re-settlement, family planning services, micro-credit circles, universal basic education, and agricultural advisory services remain sub-optimal in transforming these societies. These phenomena represent the key resilience challenge for the Eastern Africa RILab. The fact that these events recur cyclically and even predictably with similar adverse events in multiple communities indicates a gap in the resilience of target communities .i.e. the ability to cushion themselves permanently from extreme adversity due to shocks that they know and anticipate. The key question for resilient programming: How can we build agency in affected communities to tap into their local adaptive capacities in permanently transforming them into self-sufficient societies with the ability to minimize the effects of shocks and stresses arising out of climate variability? How can we do this in a way that makes households and communities stronger and leads to sustainable development?