Climate change is one of the greatest ecological challenges in Uganda, as worsened by haphazard urbanization and development. Uganda is a country located in East Africa and is crossed by the Equator. Hitherto, Uganda has mostly had a tropical climate characterized by stable rainfall patterns. However, the effects of climate change have turned the seasons around, with the country experiencing shorter or longer rains and harsher droughts, especially in eastern and northeastern parts of the country.
With more than ten cities created in 2020 (International Growth Center, 2020), Uganda is one of Africa’s top urbanizing countries. Its urbanization trends are not accompanied by commensurate infrastructure development, which in turn leads to climate change as caused by deforestation, carbon emissions, poor waste management, among others. The country’s climate is characterized by increased temperatures, which leads to drought, drying up of water ponds, reduced surface water and river flows, reduced underground water levels and dust storms. The heavy rains lead to floods, landslides, soil erosion, silting of dams and drainage channels, waterlogging in low-lying valleys and wetlands, outbreaks of epidemics of animal and crop diseases and pests. It is not a surprise that international climate risk reports label Uganda as one of the most unprepared countries in the world (CIGI, 2007).
Urbanization that does not comply with sustainable development principles exacerbates climate change resulting in the destruction of infrastructure and loss of lives. One example of the direct human cost of climate change was in May 2019, when eight people lost their lives and hundreds were displaced as flash floods hit Kampala (source: Uganda Red Cross, 2019). Climate change also has a significant impact on water availability and agricultural productivity. Uganda’s agricultural sector is the most vulnerable due to its high dependence on rainfall and weather conditions. This poses an evident threat to food production systems and the livelihoods as well as food security of millions of people. Moreover, agriculture continues to be one of the most important contributors to Uganda’s gross national product (LTS International Limited, 2008).
It is important to tackle the problem of climate change through mitigative and adaptive urbanization strategies such as sustainable housing and infrastructure, conservation of natural resources and energy transition to reduce its impacts on the country.
by Gloria Linda Ndagire
Co-founder, ZadeCAD Limited