Environment Conservation Project, Uganda (2013)
During the 20 year civil war in Uganda, over 90% of the residents in Kitgum were displaced and in the main IDP camps, the land has been left bare as bushes were indiscriminately cleared for firewood and building materials. In Northern Uganda alone, over 70% of local forest reserves have been lost, which leads to severe soil erosion. Degraded land results in reduced agricultural productivity and this is threatening the livelihoods of the vast majority of the rural poor in Northern Uganda, who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
The project will support school eco club activities including establishing and managing school woodlots, orchards and vegetable gardens. The clubs will disseminate information about environmental conservation practices through dramas and competitions. Members of the eco clubs, teachers, and environment committees will all participate to monitor the progress of the woodlots, orchards and vegetable gardens established by selected schools and households. In addition, the project will support communities with inputs such as modern bee hives and training in apiary management and marketing to improve livelihoods.
Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) has been supporting communities in Kitgum and Lamwo districts to rebuild their livelihoods in the return process. From July 2008, the LWF environmental conservation project has been supporting communities in replenishing the degraded environment by building the capacities of the various stakeholders in their villages of origin and IDP sites. Refugee Empowerment International has been working in partnership with LWF since 2008, funding this area of work.
In Uganda, approximately 97% of rural households rely on biomass for energy as they do not have access to grid electricity. Ugandan forests are now disappearing at an alarming rate of two percent per year and in the last 20 years, the country has lost almost a third of its forests. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that more than 80% of Uganda could become a desert in less than 50 years if the present environmental degradation is not reversed.
The project trained 26 teachers from 14 primary schools on tree planting and management, as well as vegetable production. The teachers used their knowledge to establish school woodlots, orchards and vegetable gardens which were taken care of by the schools ECO-clubs. There were 560 members in the ECO-clubs (288 boys and 272 girls).
In addition the project supported ten families by providing two pigs each (female and male), and gave training in piggery management and production.
“I used to tether my one pig but after the training, I constructed a piggery house. I bought three more pigs. My family supported the project and usually helped in feeding the pigs,” Obita narrated.
Additionally, ten individuals were trained as beekeepers, learning honey harvesting techniques and processing and marketing, common problems affecting beekeeping and environmental conservation practices. They were supported with both beehives and harvesting gears.
“I sold five kilograms of raw honey at local market and bought books for my children and used part of the money for domestic needs,” narrated Odong during a routine home visit.