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Uganda’s natural resource base is one of the richest and most diverse in Africa, resulting in the country's economy relying heavily on goods and services so provided.

As such environmental resources, if used properly, can contribute significantly to Uganda’s national economic development.
As part of efforts to ensure effective management of Uganda’s environment and natural resources, several policies and activities in our institution have been put in place.
Despite these efforts, the country’s natural resources continue to be degraded, and this jeopardizes both individual livelihoods and the country's economic development.
People’s livelihoods in Uganda are inextricably linked to sound natural resource management.
It is therefore essential that Parliament, in its oversight and legislative role, ensures that natural resource management is at the center of good governance and economic development.

With the research we have carried out as an organization, the level of environmental degradation being witnessed is a result of increased population pressure and ineffective management of Uganda’s natural resources.

Part of Muhangi forest reserve in muzizi river catchment showing levels of encroachment and degradation.

Climate change and environmental degradation represent a great threat to poverty reduction and to achieving the SDGs. They impact health, food security, nutrition, production, and people’s earnings. Yet given their traditional roles in agricultural production, and as the procurers of water, cooking fuel, and other household resources, women are not only well suited to find solutions to prevent further degradation and adapt to the changing climate, they have a vested interest in doing so. Joint Effort to Save the Environment (JESE) has in many projects empowered women to do this like the women of Nyakeera in Kamwenge district. It also came to a realization that the first step towards tackling the challenges of climate change is empowering women to safeguard the environment.

A photo showing part of the women who are supporting natural resource restoration in Kamwenge district.

Uganda has a typically tropical climate with little variation in temperature throughout the year. Distinctive wet and dry seasons characterize the annual climate for most of the country, except in the semi-arid northeast. However, the country is vulnerable to climate change, a phenomenon that is growing in importance globally.

There is scientific consensus that accelerated global climatic change is attributable to human activities. Impacts resulting from climate change include alteration of weather patterns and increased frequency of extreme weather, alteration of rainfall leading to increased risk of droughts and floods, and disturbing effects on the stability of ecosystems leading to the increased likelihood of species migration and species extinctions, as well as negative impacts on food security. Climate change in Uganda will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, landslides, and heat waves since the environmental degradation continues to happen.

Climate change therefore threatens to frustrate poverty eradication programs and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Climate change may undo decades of development efforts through the destruction of infrastructure, property, and lives.

Forestry makes a crucial contribution to the ecology and energy needs of Uganda. Uganda’s forest resources are an essential foundation for the country's current and future livelihood and growth. The overwhelming majority of Uganda’s household energy requirement is generated by forests.

Forestry supports wild-life and other forms of biodiversity vital for the country’s future heritage, as well as for generating foreign exchange through tourism.

As such Uganda's forests and woodlands are central to the three pillars of sustainable development – economy, society, and environment. There are forests in the Rwenzori region that JESE is fighting hard to see to it that they are conserved and also not encroached on, this is evidenced by the loggers’ cartel investigation that it carried out together with NBS television, and this video appears on our YouTube channel.
JESE is effortlessly increasing forest cover through planting of woodlots on lobbied for land from the local government in Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge. Private land owners have also been provided with indigenous tree species for planting to increase the forest cover.

Generally, trees are useful in livelihood and production strategies of rural households and communities. They are a source of fuel wood, poles, fruits, medicines and timber, in addition to providing important services especially shade and windbreaks. Of particular importance, however, is their contribution to the local diets, household food security and income generation.

We have encouraged farmers to think about trees as an investment that we often refer to as their pension. These are self-employed people and with no employer remittances to a pension scheme at the end of each month, we keep encouraging farmers to think of trees as long term solutions and thus their pension. When we refer to trees as pension, farmers become focused and start to think about their future and many are slowly embracing the idea of trees as pension.

Photos showing cut down trees and a tree planted to restore forestry.

JESE in a bid to conserve the environment is carrying out agroforestry, a system of land use where harvestable trees or shrubs are grown among or around crops or on pasture land, as a means of preserving or enhancing productivity of the land.” This is a land management system that seeks to conserve the environment through inter-cropping food with trees and is proving to be a popular solution with a lot of Kyenjojo farmers.

Woody plant resources continue to disappear in different landscapes in Uganda. To slow down further loss of these resources requires the collaboration of farmers in tree planting in agroforestry systems. Tree planting interventions with the collaboration of farmers require a good understanding of tree management practices as well as trees that best satisfy farmers’ needs. JESE with support from Forest of the World strengthens the capacity of small holder farmers adjacent the degraded forest reserves, wetlands and rivers in sustainable agroforestry and land use management through the promotion of high value crops (cocoa, vanilla, macadamia and coffee) in agroforestry for improved biodiversity, farm productivity and household incomes. Agroforestry can deliver a more diverse farm and inspire the whole rural economy, leading to food stability among our communities.

The tree species have create favorable attitudes that contribute to their active management for their conservation among farmers within agroforestry systems. This style of farming is also friendly to wildlife, which can find a home and food among the forested acres. This agricultural technique also allows farmers to make use of the environmental services that trees provide. Agroforestry has created fertile topsoil by increasing the amount of organic litter returned to soils. Agroforestry systems have created a higher potential to sequester carbon because of their ability for greater capture and utilization of nutrients than monocrops or pastures. In addition it’s potential in addressing many of the land-management and environmental problems and JESE has engaged several farmers in Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa district to practice agroforestry because of its various advantages. It’s playing a significant role in improving rural livelihoods and enhanced integrated management of natural resources in the different households of the farmers that are practicing it in Kyenjojo.

JESE is encouraging farmers to practice it because it bridges the gap that often separates agriculture and forestry by building integrated systems that address both environmental and socio-economic objectives which JESE values a lot. JESE is exploring the advantage that, integrating trees on farms can prevent environmental degradation, improve agricultural productivity, increase carbon sequestration, generate cleaner water, and support healthy soil and healthy ecosystems while providing stable incomes and other benefits to human welfare.

JESE is supporting farmers adjacent to forest resources to adapt agroforestry practices on their farms.

Wetlands are areas where land and water meet and mingle. They include areas of open water, land that is permanently flooded, such as swamps, or seasonally inundated land as is the case with flood-plains. Wetlands are also important in Uganda for controlling floods, filtering wastes, dry season fishing and livestock grazing, and tourism. Wetlands continue to suffer from pollution, conversion to other uses such as agriculture and human settlement. A lot of the original wetland area has been converted for other uses. This has resulted in the loss of biodiversity, especially for species that thrive or breed in wetlands. JESE has made it an effort through different projects to see to it that wetlands are conserved, boundary markers have been planted demarcating the land which has to be left un touched. Kakoni wetland is an example, which is in kyaka II refugee camp. There has also been restoration of the Mpanga river line in Kamwenge.

Preserving freshwater resources and ecosystems is crucial to ensuring a future in which clean water is available to all. The conservation of wetlands is important in refugee settlements like Kyaka II where freshwater sources are limited and the effects of climate change will have more and more impact on everyday life.
Wetlands like Kakoni wetland have been lost due to agricultural expansion, water supply projects, climate change, and unsustainable use of resources. Today, our remaining wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, we need to act faster still to stop this from happening. Wetlands are some of the richest and most productive places on Earth. Where land meets water, a nutrient-rich ecosystem thrives, providing food and fresh water to animals and people.

Wetlands are an essential part of the water cycle. They filter pollutants and hold significant volumes of the available freshwater. At the same time, wetlands are a source of food and income to local communities, supporting the livelihoods of people. Wetlands play a key role in storing, absorbing, and cleaning freshwater, and in protecting people from extreme weather impacts. Besides, they are key allies in the fight against climate change too.

As the world painfully realizes throughout the COVID19 pandemic, access to safe water and soap for hand washing can help stave off disease and keep our economies functioning. To build back better, we must recognize and include the vital need to provide clean water and protect the natural systems that provide it, such as wetlands.

Nature-based solutions offer an opportunity and can address a wide range of urgent societal challenges while at the same time stimulating job creation, restoring water catchments, increase water availability and reduce soil erosion, and sustainable economic activity. They also enable better alignment and integration of agriculture with economic, employment, social, and climate and goals.JESE with support from Care has seen to it that Kakoni wetland is restored, it has planted boundary pillar to indicate to both the nationals and the refugees the area they are not supposed to encroach.

People who live and work around these wetlands are also affected. With wetland encroachment, negative repercussions are on the rise for communities, threatening pastures, fisheries, freshwater reserves, and biodiversity.JESE has come up with different Innovative approaches are to protect wetlands.

Among the innovations, JESE with support from Care is implementing a project called Strenpo, the project is providing technical and financial support to restoring the wetland. In this different tree species have been planted, demarcations made to create a boundary line so that both nationals and refugees do not re-encroach on the wetland. Currently, in its early stages, the initiative involves local authorities and partners.

The project is also supporting the transfer of skills to local communities and national administrations responsible for natural resources, ensuring the autonomy of partner authorities to monitor and sustainably manage the restoration of the wetlands. Among its capacity-building activities, the projects provide economic training to women to enable them to acquire new business ideas to ensure that they don’t resort to wetland encroachment again.

Finally, JESE while strengthening wetland conservation, is lobbying for their continuance by asking the government to render its support to stopping high-profile encroachers that can’t be handled by local authorities.

A photo showing JESE and its partners planting a pillar as boundary mark for the Kakoni wetland.

Integrated Water Resource Management.
The IWRM program has been under implementation for the last three years since its inception. With several implementing partners being supported by PROTOS, a wide range of interventions have been under taken, by the various partners including; JESE, NRDI, HEWASA and IRC. The main areas of intervention include; restoration of the Mpanga, Semuliki and Upper Lake Albert water catchment areas in the districts of Kamwenge, Kitagwenda, Fort portal City and Bulisa.

The PROTOS supported activities implemented under the IWRM project includes; establishment of tree nursery beds, extension of clean water supply to target beneficiaries, construction of Ecosan toilets, and construction of energy saving stoves for target beneficiaries. Other activities include the provision of agriculture extension services to farmers in selected catchment area, to enhance household food security and income.

Since its inception in 2017, the program impacted tremendously on people’s lives in target populations through the provision of WASH facilities and services to both public institutions and local community households.

The impact of the IWRM program in the target communities cannot go unnoticed among target beneficiaries in the two districts of Kamwenge and Kitagwenda. It draws attention to interventions in the areas of WASH, Environment and extension services and how these impacted on the lives of target beneficiaries in selected communities.  Among the notable program outputs are the following;

Enhancing access to sanitation services in public institutions
At Nyakera parents primary school, in Nyakeera B village, Bukurungo town council, Nyakeera parish, Kitagwenda district, JESE with support from Protos has constructed eight stances of ecological sanitation toilet and a ten thousand capacity rain water harvesting tank installed at the school. With a population of 306 pupils, the public institution did not have any nearest source of clean safe water for human consumption and the old latrine structure had collapsed. In a bit to enhance access to water and sanitation services as per IWRM program objective, the provision of these facilities remains a great contribution to the overall IWRM program goal.

Photo of the newly constructed ecological sanitation facility at Nyakeera Parents Primary School

Photo of the installed 10,000 litre tank at Nyakeera Parents primary school to enhance access to clean water services

Restoration of natural resources through tree planting and protection of water catchment areas.

Photos of the Nyakeera landing site with a greener view after the restoration impact through IWRM program activities.