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Like much of the African continent, Uganda is expected to experience some of the worst effects of climate change the fastest—and some of those effects are already here.
“There are so many impacts of climate change that are already being felt in the country,” said Irene Chekwoti, Senior Climate Change Officer in charge of Mitigation at the Ministry of Water and Environment. “There are food shortages, there are unpredictable rains and unpredictable droughts so people aren’t able to plant their crops when they used to. We recently had a landslide: People were buried; everything was buried.”
In a country where 12 percent of the population is chronically food insecure and 70 percent of the country is employed in the agricultural sector, the impacts of increasingly severe weather and chronic droughts as a result of climate change could be deadly. Economically, the impacts on the coffee industry alone may cost the country over $265 million, which is 40 percent of its export revenue. Moreover, resource depletion could exacerbate conflict in neighbouring countries, increasing Uganda’s refugee population, which is already the largest in Africa.
As is pointed out in the country’s Third National Development Plan, which outlines Uganda’s 2040 plan to transform the nation into a modern and prosperous society, recent studies found that Uganda has some of the worst air quality in Africa.
These effects are why fast action on climate change is so important. Uganda is joining the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) because reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is one of the most effective strategies for slowing down planetary warming. It’s also an important way to improve air pollution—a major problem in a country where over 95 percent of households use charcoal for cooking and where many vehicles are over 15 years old.
Uganda is particularly interested in building the country’s technical and financial capacity to reduce SLCPs and better manage air quality. They’re looking forward to forging partnerships, networking, experience sharing and learning lessons from other CCAC partners while focusing on action in the industry, energy, transport and waste sectors. While Uganda has only just become a member, the country has already worked with the CCAC in the past through its standards and labelling programme for cookstoves.
“Our economy depends on nature,” said Fred Onyai, the Internal Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). “Tourism and agriculture are the major nature-dependent sectors in the country, so if we can encourage climate resilience and reduce emissions, we’re enhancing the economic capacity of our people and improving human well-being. This is notably through nature-based solutions and actions that include protection, restoration, and sustainable management of ecosystems.
Partnering with the CCAC will help Uganda achieve the objectives of its third National Development Plan (NDPIII), published in 2020 and 2021, which includes many goals in line with the CCAC’s objectives to mitigate SLCPs. This plan points out that, like many African countries, Uganda is operating on a dearth of data about air pollution and includes objectives to fix this problem including procuring air monitoring equipment and carrying out sensitization campaigns on air pollution standards.
“Having better data will help Uganda advance in the monitoring and enforcement of regulations and standards on air quality,” said Onyai. “The data will also help Uganda to review and implement its NDCs and manage SLCPs and clean air in the context of public health and climate change.”
The National Development Plan further includes the objective of waste management innovation. This will be carried out by improving municipal waste collection and sorting facilities, in addition to reducing waste through prevention and recycling or sustainable waste management hierarchy with focus on waste for wealth and job creation through the involvement of the private sector such as public-private partnerships (PPP). These actions will help accomplish the goal of reducing methane emissions from landfills. The plan further outlines the goal of implementing vehicle emissions standards to combat air pollution.
Furthermore, the NDPIII emphasizes nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based actions that prioritize afforestation and re-afforestation by increasing the national forest cover from 12.5% in 2020/21 to 15% in 2024/25, and national wetland coverage from 9.08% in 2020/21 to 9.57% in 2024/25. It is envisaged that improvement in forest and wetland coverages will contribute to improvement in air quality through ecosystems services such as carbon sequestration or carbon sinks and removals and thus enhancing climate resilience too.
Uganda is also in the process of completing a national Greenhouse Gas Inventory and a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification system. With the CCAC’s support, it hopes to integrate short-lived climate pollutants into this plan.
Uganda is seeking support for the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) it’s hoping to design and implement, which will be a Fuel Efficient Initiative to improve air quality and combat climate change. This will include developing a national database of the existing vehicle fleet, fuel consumption, and efficiency and developing fuel efficiency standards and policies. It will include setting limits on the age of imported vehicles, vehicle inspections and certifications, as well as tax incentives for more efficient vehicles.
Uganda already has ambitious climate change legislation to build off, including the National Climate Change Bill of 2018 which was passed as an act of parliament this year and is awaiting presidential approval. The National Environment Act of 2019 also paves the way for air pollution regulation. Uganda already has in place important methane mitigation measures through the national Waste Management Regulations and the Landfill Management Guidelines.
Uganda and the CCAC look forward to leveraging these accomplishments and building off existing work to catalyse further action on climate and clean air pollution and create a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous nation for generations to come.
Our Expert Assistance is a no-cost service that connects you to an extensive network of professionals for consultation and advice on a range of short-lived climate pollution issues and policies.
Experts will provide guidance on technological options, mitigation measures (like those carried out by our initiatives), funding opportunities, application of measurement tools, and policy development.