Climate change continues to be the greatest challenge affecting humanity, ecosystem, sustainability and livelihoods. Vulnerable communities continue to be impacted more by the changing weather patterns. Extreme weather events in form of floods and droughts in Uganda have severely impacted hundreds of communities resulting into severe losses and damages estimated in millions of shillings.
The Integrated Rainfall Variability Impact report by department of Disaster Management estimated damage and losses caused by rainfall deficit conditions in Uganda in 2010 and 2011 at 2.8 trillion Shillings (US$ 1.2 billion) equivalent to 7.5 percent of the Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010.
The EMLI Climate Change programme aims at reducing vulnerability and building resilience to impacts of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing access to climate finance. Through initiatives such as education and awareness-raising, significant numbers in communities have acquired knowledge and skills to shield themselves from disasters.
Internationally, EMLI is one of the admitted observer organizations at the UNFCCC that continues to foster for climate justice.
Ecosystems and Environment management
Communities continue to depend on natural resources and various goods and services provided by ecosystems for their survival. Approx. 85 percent of Uganda’s population is highly dependent on natural resources for livelihood.
Currently, the country’s environment and natural resources are under threat especially from human activities. The growing population pressure has worsened land degradation. The ever growing demand for fuel wood has continued to decrease vegetation coverage thus translating to deforestation rate of 2.3 per cent. The increased encroachment on protected areas for food crop production and land clearing for settlement and commercialization has led to biodiversity loss and reduced wetland areas.
The EMLI Ecosystems and Environment program aims at empowering communities to sustainably manage their environment and natural resources. Through initiatives such as restoration of degraded ecosystems (especially wetlands), communities have been given hope to wisely utilize their ecosystem were as conserving them for future use. Beginning in 2015, EMLI will also focus on Ecosystems and Environment Economics initiative that will explore financing mechanisms.
The Constitution guarantees every Ugandan ‘a right to a clean and healthy environment’ and realized by the National Environment Act. The Act is reinforced by multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) to serve as framework legislation. Much as this is a right, paradoxically neither the Constitution nor the Act defines the right.
The current state of environmental rule of law is characterized by inconsistent laws, nested un-coordinated institutions waved by high level of non-compliance due to very low enforcement marred by insufficient capacity of law enforcers, both in terms of environmental law and management expertise and equipment and facilitation.
The EMLI Environmental governance program aims at promoting and supporting the environmental basis for sustainable development. Through initiatives such as promoting public policy dialogues on environment and natural resources, a number of reforms in Laws and Policies relating to environment and natural resources have been triggered.
EMLI intends to focus some of its work on promoting strategic environmental assessment (SEA); pursuit of both civil and criminal sanctions for environmental violations and enhancing the role of citizen in environmental enforcement.
Chemicals and Waste
The economy of Uganda is growing at a fast rate with inefficient methods of production. Quantities of chemicals are imported for use in agriculture, forestry, veterinary, health and mining. The chain of importation involves transportation, storage, use and disposal. Such activities have been reported to be done with limited technical knowledge, skills and equipment thus exposing the public to a number of risks and hazards which compromises public health and environment.
Most of the chemicals used in sectors above are POPs thus posing serious risks to people and the environment due to their potential to contaminate other non-hazardous waste and substances if not adequately controlled.
Attempts to determine the level of toxicity in the environment have not been successful but glaring picture portrays a bad situation characterized by increasing respiratory diseases, cancer, and endocrine disruptions.The EMLI Chemicals and Waste programme aims at increasing capacity to environmentally sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste.
Through initiatives such as education, awareness-raising and networking with NGOs, communities have been informed of the potential adverse effects of chemicals.EMLI intends to promote and implement some of the activities stipulated in the national action plan on sound management of chemicals and waste in Uganda.
The ultimate outcome of any sustainably managed ecosystem is the improvement of the lives of those living in such areas. Our livelihoods and our survival depend on how we harness our natural resources. Different parameters determine people and family livelihoods. In the last few years, EMLI has been addressing 2 key parameters that foster improved livelihoods of communities i.e. education and health.
In such for ways of sustaining the lives of communities that conserve the diverse natural resources, EMLI Livelihood Programme aims at harnessing natural capital for improved human well-being.
EMLI intends to provide long term context-specific solutions to local communities that will improve health, food and nutrition security and increase income. This will involve a set of initiatives such as: micro-grant support for families, seeds and tools for agricultural productivity, small nature-based business assistance, and other programs that help households become self-sufficient.