The Impact of Climate Change on Women and Children in Central Uganda
Climate change is defined as a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the entirety of Earth.
Uganda is highly vulnerable to climate change and variability - its economy and the well-being of its people are tightly bound to climate.
Human-induced climate change in the coming century has the potential to halt or reverse the country's developmental trajectory.
Climate change can lead to increased food insecurity; shifts in the spread of diseases like malaria; soil erosion and land degradation; flood damage to infrastructure and settlements, shifts in the productivity of agricultural and natural resources, exacerbating poverty and triggering migration as well as heightened competition over strategic water resources.
These changes in climate could lead to regional insecurity.
Impacts on Women and Children in BAFNET’s Areas of Operation
BAFNET (Bakkade Foundation Network) is a registered non-profit, non-governmental organization formed to empower the elderly community and orphaned children in Uganda, to effectively enable them to take part in all societal activities that affect them directly and indirectly, thus boosting their socio-economic status.
The organization has a total of eighty (80) beneficiaries where 56 members are elderly and 24 members are orphans.
All these people are catered to from their homes and are spread in six districts of Uganda, which includes Kampala, Mpigi, Mityana, Mukono, Wakiso and Masaka.
These areas are affected by environmental changes – which also hinders BAFNET operations and planning.
Changes in seasons and droughts
BAFNET has a small piece of land where food is grown. The harvest is then given out to elderly women and orphans throughout our area of operation, but due to various changes in the environment, we have experienced various shifts in agricultural productivity of which has lead to the organization not meeting its expectations as far as feeding these marginalized people is concerned.
BAFNET, through its sanitization campaigns, laid interventions to improve water harvesting as well as improved provision of water for production to counter water scarcity as a result of prolonged droughts. Various wells have been renovated and cleaned.
Extreme Weather Conditions
- Heavy rain leads to soil erosion, which has led to the destruction of crops, lives, property, communication, and transport systems, has led to people becoming homeless, orphans, and it has also led to famine since crops are destroyed by heavy rains. Transportation and communication has also been destroyed by these heavy rains in the way that during these heavy rains, roads have been blocked – and even communication lines have been put down making other areas inaccessible, thus leading to poverty, such as in Mukono district and Masaka district.
- Flooding makes it hard for development to take place because it can lead to diseases like cholera, and Ebola. They wash away plantations and contaminate water. They make it hard (for BAFNET) to reach people in these areas.
- Lightning strikes on the fertile land, and on buildings, leading to land infertility and death of animals as well as human beings. This has led to poor output in the agricultural sector, and thus, high market prices. It has also led to unemployment, since it also destroyed buildings. For example, a primary school in Kamuli district was struck by lightning, killing a number of children, and leaving teachers unemployed; this has led to poverty in the areas of Kamuli district.
- Earthquakes have also been a problem to the community in Wakiso district. This has led to the destruction of buildings, crops, drainage channels of which a few lead to destruction of buildings, loss of lives, displacement of people. This has caused people to settle in areas where they cannot be employed, and has also made it difficult for BAFNET to resettle its beneficiaries due to lack of funds.
- Drought – similar to earthquakes: people get displaced due to crops drying up in their areas, animals die, wells dry out, and hence, hindering development.
- Land is affected by heavy rainfall that leads to soil erosion, which affects soil fertility, and in turn affects agriculture. This has affected the people because it leads to limited food supplies; hence, starvation. For example, in Mukono and Masaka districts, there has been an increase in the number of people who need support from BAFNET, yet it’s a small organization that cannot take care of it at all.
- Forests act as wind breakers, which help to prevent destruction of property like shelter, crops, and many others. Forests also influence rainfall that has helped in agriculture – leading to favorable food supply to the beneficiaries of BAFNET.
- Swamps are affected by too much sunshine that reduces the water table. This leads to water shortage or drainage. This water shortage affects our beneficiaries, yet BAFNET cannot afford to supply instruments like water tanks to all its beneficiaries.
- Vegetation is affected by climate changes like heavy rainfall and too much sunshine. Heavy rains wash away the vegetation and too much sunshine leads to desertification. This affects people since they can’t get enough food.
- Plantations are affected by climate changes like lightning and too much sunshine that burn up the plantations. This leads to poor production.
The level of Lake Victoria is highly sensitive to changes in climate. However, recent claims that the drop in lake level is due to climate change should be viewed with skepticism. Approximately half of the drop in level between 2000 and 2006 can be explained by excess releases at the outflow of the lake made in order to meet power generation demands, whilst the other half appears to be due to climatic factors.
It is not yet possible to conclude that climate change is affecting lake levels - Lake Victoria has a long history of high variability in water levels in response to natural climate variability. Instead, it appears that lake levels are returning to the lower levels experienced before the unusually high levels of the 1960s and 70s.
There is uncertainty as to whether lake levels in the future will be lower or higher on average than at present, but it is likely that variability in levels will continue – and may become more extreme. Fluctuations in lake level will continue to have an impact upon the generating capacity of Uganda's hydroelectric facilities and on infrastructure around the lake, such as domestic water supply, irrigation, and transport infrastructure. The effect of lake level fluctuations and increased temperatures due to climate change on the fishery and ecosystem of the lake is less well known.
The resilience of the Lake Victoria ecosystem to climate change can be increased by reducing the impact of other stresses such as overfishing, soil erosion, and pollution.