Building Sustainable Communities through Climate-Smart Agriculture and Conservation Initiatives

In July 2023, NU supported communities in Kisoro district with equipment to enable them construct Soil and Water Conservation trenches and stop dams. By controlling water runoff and preventing soil erosion, these conservation measures will significantly enhance soil productivity. This, in turn, will lead to increased incomes and improved livelihoods for the communities. The tools were given to community groups which are going to act as demonstration sites for the other communities in the landscape.

With financial support from BMZ and NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), NatureUganda (NU) is implementing a project dubbed ‘AfriEvolve – Capacity Development for Green NGOs in Africa. The aim of the project is to enable the six local East African and West African NGOs to use newly gained capacities for improved civil society cooperation and climate adaptation of smallholder agriculture. Under this project, NU is working with five Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) groups around Echuya Central Forest  Reserve, in South-Western Uganda, to to benefit from climate smart agriculture interventions like agro-forestry systems, soil and water conservation measures e.t.c, to improve food security and climate change effects as well as energy-saving technologies in order to reduce pressure on the forest.

Soil and water play an essential role as natural resources for Uganda’s agricultural production system. Among the different processes that lead to soil degradation, erosion poses a significant threat to the deterioration of both soil and water resources, greatly impacting climate change. This factor also contributes to poverty, making it difficult for local communities to adapt to climate change. It’s important to note that agriculture, particularly in the Kigezi sub-region, remains the primary sector for income generation and employment. Efficient soil and water management is a must, not only for improved agricultural yields but also climate change mitigation. ‘Since we all depend on soil and agriculture for both nutrition and incomes, the soils need to be protected and that’s why NU is providing you with soil and water conservation tools so that you embark on seriously protecting soil,’ noted Jimmy Muheebwa, Director for Conservation & Partnerships – NU.

Mr. Alex Nayambaje, the Deputy LCV Chairperson, Kisoro district officiated the function and thanked NatureUganda for the role they are playing in the protection and conservation of Echuya forest. He highlighted that respective councils of Kisoro and Rubanda districts passed a resolution to transform the forest into a National park so that the forest is better protected but also the people around the forest can benefit from tourism.

In addition, NU has extended its support to CFM communities in Kisoro district by providing them with energy-saving cook stoves. Last year, 100 cook stoves were distributed to CFM communities specifically in Rubanda district. The objective is to reduce the pressure on the forest and combat the adverse impacts of climate change.

To ensure the long-term success of its initiatives, NU has supported and trained selected community members as Trainers of Trainers (ToTs) in various climate-smart agricultural practices. These ToTs serve as focal persons within their respective villages, imparting their knowledge and skills to fellow community members.

For over 20 years, NatureUganda has been supporting the communities surrounding the Echuya forest reserve with various income-generating activities with the aim of empowering them economically and enhancing their livelihoods. Some of these initiatives include apiary, tree growing, fruit and vegetable cultivation, mushroom farming, and providing seed money for village savings schemes. Additionally, we have actively promoted bamboo domestication, as well as sheep and pig rearing.

As a group of 34 members, we were given 30 female and one male sheep in 2020. Since then, the number currently stands at 59. We expect to have more than doubled this number within one year because they are playing a big role in provision of manure especially for those engaged on the growing of Irish potatoes that require organic manure for better yield. ’Mr. Amos Mutabaazi of Katembe Bigyegye

Being highly populated with very small land, they also need to practice income generating activities that do not require a lot of land, generate high incomes and are climate smart. ‘ noted Jimmy Muheebwa.