Between September 4 to 6, 2021, the African and international leaders attended the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya where they deliberated on Africa’s unified position on the climate crisis ahead of COP28, the global climate talks, in December. They also developed the Nairobi Declaration for green growth, a blueprint for Africa’s green energy transition.
The Africa Climate Summit is the largest gathering of African Heads of State, Ministers, UN agencies, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector and youth in the continent’s history. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the increasing impacts of climate change on human mobility in Africa.
As you may know, not all countries are equally responsible for the climate crisis. African countries are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, experiencing the dire impacts of the climate crisis including drought, flooding, extreme weather temperatures, rising sea levels. In 2022, more than 7.5 million internal disaster displacements were registered on the African continent (IDMC, Global Report on Internal Displacement, 2023).
The African Development Bank (AfDB) indicates that nine out of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa. These events are costing countries $7 to $15 billion a year and, unchecked, the AfDB warns these costs could soar to $50 billion annually by 2030.
The research commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also estimates the cost of adaptation to be about $50 billion by 2050 if the global temperature increase is kept within 2 degrees. The high dependence of the continent on rain-fed agriculture compounds these vulnerabilities.
Worse to note, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), also reports that more than 30 gigatonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth's atmosphere every year and this is the main source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and most of these gases come from the use of fossil fuels, non-renewable energy production and polluting human activities.
The top ten polluters include China - 10,065 million tonnes of CO2, the United States - 5,416 million tonnes, India - 2,654 million tonnes, Russia - 1,711 million tonnes, Japan - 1,162 million tonnes, Germany - 759 million tonnes, Iran - 720 million tonnes, South Korea - 659 million tonnes, Saudi Arabia - 621 million tonnes and Indonesia - 615 million tonnes of CO2, while Africa, an entire continent, accounts for only four (4) per cent of global carbon emissions, despite being the continent suffering the most devastating effects of the climate crisis.
That is why, according to the 1992 Rio Declaration, now known as the polluter pays principle, those who cause pollution should bear the costs of dealing with it to prevent damage to human health or the environment, as the world agreed that the biggest polluters must take action to reduce their carbon emissions, but also to offset their carbon footprints by supporting environmental projects around the world.
Despite such declarations, the catastrophic effects of climate change in Africa are not only wreaking havoc on local communities, but are becoming a major obstacle to achieving the just energy transition. Urgent action to combat this threat is no longer a matter of choice but of existential necessity.
It is true that the world is gradually waking up to the climate emergency where major oil and gas companies from Europe and North America are increasingly losing their license to operate there however, they are turning to Africa to try and secure at least a few more years of extraction and profit. Yet decades of fossil fuel development in Africa have failed to bring prosperity and reduce energy poverty. African countries whose economies rely on the production and export of fossil fuels are suffering slower rates of growth, sometimes up to three times slower than those with more diverse economies.
For instance, in Mozambique, where foreign companies have built a $20bn offshore natural gas field and onshore liquefied natural gas facility, 70 percent of the country still lives without access to electricity. The gas is not for local people. Fossil fuels development has often had terrible consequences for the communities exposed to it.
In Cabo Delgado, the area around the gas fields of Mozambique, for example, the industry destroyed the lives and livelihoods of the locals but delivered few of the promised jobs and compensation. In Nigeria, Uganda, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the arrival of oil brought poverty, human rights abuses, and the loss of traditional lands and cultures.
The investments in fossil fuels are not investments for the people. The gas prices are inherently volatile, as the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are currently demonstrating. In many African countries, where costly fossil fuel projects already demonstrated they can do little to alleviate debt burdens and new fossil fuel investments will only serve to pile more debt on existing debt.
The renewable energy presents an unequivocally better alternative to all this. Electricity from solar and wind is now largely cheaper than electricity form gas and prices don’t experience dangerous fluctuations.
Therefore, if African countries are to stand a chance to achieve the just clean energy transition, there must be an increase in investment in renewable energy and climate action and this requires strong political commitment to increase the pace of implementation as opposed to prioritizing fossil fuels.
Patrick Edema is the Environmental Engineer and Programmes Coordinator at AFIEGO
Uganda’s agricultural potential is considered to be among the best in Africa with low temperature variability, fertile soils, and two rainy seasons over much of the country leading to multiple crop harvests per year.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Uganda’s fertile agricultural land has the potential to feed 200 million people. Eighty percent of Uganda’s land is arable but only 35% is being cultivated. In 2021/22, agriculture accounted for about 24.1% of GDP and 33% of export earnings.
The UBOS estimates that about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture. Uganda produces a wide range of agricultural products including: coffee, tea, sugar, livestock, fish, edible oils, cotton, tobacco, plantains, corn, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, and groundnuts
However much Uganda is being the best among the African countries regarding agricultural sector, it is noted that the commercialization of the sector is impeded by a lot of challenges faced by the farmers.
Some of these are limited use of fertilizer, lack of quality seeds, sub-standard agrochemical inputs, limited access to finance caused by high-interest rates, expensive farming equipment, poor farming practices and lack of irrigation infrastructure rendering production vulnerable to climatic extremes and pest infestations.
According to Integrated Seed Sector Development Uganda, it is estimated that less than 15% of Ugandan farmers use quality, mainly hybrid seed. This stems from inadequate access to quality seeds of farmers; preferred crop varieties, high price of seed, unsupportive policies and inadequate knowledge of available varieties.
As the climate change crisis worsens and as commercial interests continue to take hold, Uganda stands to lose its indigenous seeds and plants which are bad for both farmers and consumers of farm produce.
Various reports have indicated that to fatten their animals or prolong the shelf life of their farm produce, farmers and traders use chemical substances such as Anti-Retroviral drugs to feed pigs and formalin to preserve meat.
Moreover, some of the pesticides such as Mancozeb that are used by tomato farmers are retained in the produce that farmers send to the market. Indeed, an analysis by Emmanuel Kaye showed that market samples had 0.77+0.49mg/kg of Mancozeb. This puts tomato consumers at risk of abnormal thyroid function, cancer and other diseases.
With a survey done by Anti-Counterfeit Network covering Mbale and Sironko in March 2022, it shows that 50% of the seeds and agro-inputs on the market were fake. A 2017 World Bank assessment also showed that 30% of herbicides across Uganda contain less than 75% of the active ingredient that is advertised.
Fake agrochemicals result in the exploitation of farmers and poor productivity. The use of agro-chemicals also presents challenges for the consumers of the farm produce and environmental conservation efforts.
Available information indicates that only 23% of farmers in Uganda have the recommended training in pesticide use including pesticide application techniques, storage and safety measures. The misuse of agrochemicals affects soil biodiversity and causes human health problems.
Uganda’s agricultural sector is dominated by small holder farmers many of whom find it hard to access credit from financial institutions. This is because the banks charge high interest rates among other factors. Indeed, in 2018, banks’ lending to the agricultural sector, which employs the majority of Ugandans, was only 12.2%.
Uganda’s interest rates that are charged by Ugandan banks are some of the highest in Africa. In February 2023 for instance, the commercial bank lending rate was 20.24%, according to Bank of Uganda. Expensive farming equipment is also a challenge.
The government has been encouraging farmers to mechanize their agricultural practices to increase efficiency, enhance productivity and attract labor especially the youth among others. However, available information indicates that despite various governments mechanization programmes, 70% of Ugandans employed in the agricultural sector cannot afford machinery.
Framing equipment is priced out of farmers’ range. Moreover, through NAADS among other partners, the government of Uganda procured some agricultural equipment and supplied them to farmers however some of the equipment supplied got mechanical issues and broke down. This equipment such as tractors could not be repaired due to lack of spare parts. Some equipment that is imported in Uganda is also incompatible.
Therefore, I call upon the government to invest more in agricultural sector and address these challenges affecting the sector from realizing its potential such as over-pricing of agricultural inputs, sub-standard agricultural inputs, high interest rates that undermine access to credit for farmers, widespread use of harmful herbicides as well as pesticides and among others so as to make agriculture benefit all Ugandans especially farmers by increasing agricultural productivity.
The government should sensitize farmers on the dangers of poor pesticide and other chemicals’ use and empower citizens and the Ugandan police to arrest farmers and traders who use harmful chemicals to preserve farm produce and ensure all butchers have testing gadgets to ensure that meat sold is not contaminated and qualifies for human consumption. Agro ecology as one of the farming systems which brings healthy and quality food for consumption and market must be recognized.
Olive Atuhaire is a resident in Kampala
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, affecting communities and ecosystems worldwide. However, beneath the surface of global warming, far-reaching consequences lay a stark reality: the impacts of climate change are not gender-neutral. Women, especially those in vulnerable communities, are disproportionately affected by the changing climate. It is imperative to recognize and address these gendered implications to ensure a just and equitable response to the climate crisis.
In many developing countries like Uganda, women play a significant role in agriculture, subsistence farming, and fishing. The unpredictable weather patterns brought about by climate change, including droughts, floods, and storms disrupt these activities. Women often have limited access to resources such as land, technology, and financial services, which makes it challenging to adapt to these changing conditions. The resulting loss of livelihoods exacerbates poverty and food insecurity, disproportionately affecting women and their families.
Furthermore, climate change intensifies water scarcity, with women bearing the brunt of its consequences women and girls are typically responsible for water collection in many African societies, spending hours each day fetching water for household needs. As water sources become scarcer due to droughts and changing precipitation patterns, the burden on women increases, further limiting their opportunities for education and economic participation. additionally, inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities disproportionally affects women's health and hygiene.
During climate-related disasters, women's vulnerability is heightened. Pregnant women, the elderly, and those with caregiving responsibilities often face difficulties in accessing healthcare and evacuation resources. In post-disaster scenarios, women also face of increased risks of gender-based violence and exploitation. Displaced populations often experience crowded and insecure living conditions, amplifying these risks.
Climate change impacts can hinder girls' education, perpetuating inequalities. Girls may be tasked with additional responsibilities, such as water collection and household chores, reducing their time for school. Climate-related events, such as floods and storms, can damage schools and disrupt educational routines. With limited education and fewer opportunities, women have reduced economic independence and are less able to engage in decision-making processes at community and national levels.
While women are often depicted as victims of climate change, they are also key agents of resilience. Women possess valuable traditional knowledge and adaptive strategies that can contribute to community resilience in the face of climate-related challenges. Incorporating women's perspectives and expertise into climate adaptation and mitigation strategies is essential for effective and sustainable responses.
Addressing the gendered impacts of climate change requires a multifaceted approach. Governments, organizations, and communities must work together to promote women's participation in decision-making processes related to climate action. This includes providing women with access to education, resources and technology, as well as ensuring their voices are heard in policy discussions. Supporting women-led initiatives, such as sustainable farming practices and climate-resilient entrepreneurship, can enhance women's agency and economic stability.
The gendered impacts of climate change are a sobering reminder of the interconnectedness of environmental and social issues. As we strive for a more sustainable and equitable future, is imperative to recognize that climate change disproportionately affects women, particularly those in vulnerable communities. By centring on women's experiences, empowering their voices, and addressing their unique challenges, we can build a more just and resilient world that confronts climate crisis with determination.
Ruth Kyarisiima is the Programs Assistant at Strategic Response on Environmental Conservation (STREC)
Following five major oil and gas discoveries made between 2022 and 2023, Namibia's upstream market has seen a strong wave of interest by global E&P players.
Companies such as ReconAfrica, a Canadian-based explorer, have amplified their exploration efforts. The company's Director of Communication and Stakeholder Relations Mwanyengwa Ndapewoshali Shapwanale plays an integral part in driving both ReconAfrica and Namibia's energy narrative, serving as an inspiration for those in the field.
Shapwanale is featured on the African Energy Chamber's (AEC) list of 25 Under 40 Energy Women Rising Stars.
Please share a brief overview of your journey in the energy industry that led to your current role? What are some key achievements or milestones that you are particularly proud of?
My journey in the energy sector started in April 2021 when I was approached to provide multimedia consulting, specifically social media services to my current employer ReconAfrica.
I immediately realized I could provide much more to the company and engaged the company representative at the time to propose my additional skills and how I could assist the company.
This included media relations, corporate communication, government relations, community relations, and brand crisis management.
Fast forward a few months, I was appointed as the Director of Communication and Stakeholder Relations. A major part of my role is ensuring and maintaining social license.
I am particularly proud of the work our team has done in community relations. While maintaining a social license is an ongoing and continuous exercise, I am pleased with the work we have put in as a team, and I will continue to work towards progressing this responsibility.
Another proud achievement must be our work towards providing safe and secure access to potable water to the communities in our area of operations through the drilling, installing, and handing over of community water wells in our three years of operation.
Apart from the communities, especially women and children, having to walk long distances to fetch water, this is an area where human-wildlife conflict is rampant because of the communities' dependency on the Kavango River for water.
Being able to provide an alternative water source, I believe, contributes to saving lives and meeting the government halfway in their aims to alleviate and even totally eradicate the human-wildlife conflict.
Further, the Namibian nation is quite new to the oil and gas industry, as the past few years have been the most visible action we have seen in the country.
For the nation and the average Joe on the street to understand, welcome, and meaningfully participate in oil and gas activities, there must be efforts to educate and inform about the industry and the energy sector at large.
As part of my communication role, we have done training with the media so that they can report from an educated, understanding, and informed position.
We have also collaborated with the University of Science and Technology to host bi-monthly public lectures on oil and gas activities in the country.
These sessions have been extremely successful, with an audience of over 600 in person and a maximum of 900+ online. The audience included students, professionals from all fraternities, diplomats, academics, and government officials.
The speakers included the Minister of Mines and Energy in Namibia, the Petroleum Commissioner, lawmakers, geologists, and educators, to name a few.
Lastly, I am pleased to have teamed up with exceptional fellow women in the industry to establish the first ever Women in Oil, Gas, and Energy Association in Namibia, a body aimed at achieving the advancement of women in the energy sector.
Energy poverty is an African reality, and Namibia is not singled out from this reality. Further to that, my area of operation is one of the most socially challenged in our country, and I have started and will continue to use my role to innovatively tackle these challenges to ensure that my country and our continent as a whole benefit from its resources.
The energy industry is known for its complexities. What were some significant challenges you faced along the way, and how did you navigate through them to achieve your goals?
It definitely has to be the onslaught that accompanies the frowning upon of oil and gas exploration and development of this resource by African countries and the public's perception of oil and gas exploration and development.
I was very lucky to, very early in my career, listen to the AEC chairperson speak on the just transition as well as really grasp the concept of African solutions for African challenges.
This helped me focus on the matter at hand, which is to ensure that I carry out my role without listening to the unwarranted attacks.
Adopting the just transition and African solutions for African challenges has also helped me stay focused on the bigger responsibility, which is to ensure meaningful, impactful, and tangible contributions to eradicating energy poverty in Namibia and the continent, meaningful participation in the sector, and meaningful benefit from the energy sector.
What advice would you give to young females aspiring to excel in the energy sector? Are there any specific strategies or mindsets that helped you overcome obstacles and reach your current position?
Humility, listening to those who have been in the sector, put in the work, collaboration and willingness to learn learn learn!
I was very privileged to have been welcomed into the sector with open arms by so many, including the leadership in our oil and gas sector in the country.
I specifically want to highlight the women including Maggy Shino, Victoria Sibeya, MME Dep Minister Kornelia Shilunga, and Taimi Itembu, to name a few. Leadership in my company is the true definition of meaningfully giving a young black woman a seat at the table and supporting her in the role.
It is important to note that it is not enough to be given a seat at the table; the work has to continue to maintain that seat at the table. To be considered at the table should not be to satisfy a quota but because one is capable of excelling, achieving, and delivering.
A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?
Demanding indeed! I am typically up by 05:30 and start my day with reflection, praise, worship, or prayer—not every day as I would like to.
Because our team works in different time zones, I use my mornings to attend to emails that may have come through in the night. Having planned my to-do list the night before, I start executing my items for the day.
My role involves a lot of writing; therefore, I am constantly writing or preparing messages. Our meetings normally take place in the late afternoon or early evening. I work well at night and therefore choose to action some of the deliverables right after our meetings, in the evening.
With stakeholder relations, I am also constantly working on monitoring our relations and finding ways to maintain or improve them. One must be innovative. A lot of moving pieces, all the time.
The last two hours of my work day are dedicated to upskilling. I try as much as possible to take short courses to assist me in carrying out my role.
Looking ahead, what changes or advancements do you hope to see in the energy sector, and how do you envision your role in shaping that future?
Meaningful participation in the energy sector, advancement of women in the energy sector, community understanding, being informed and educated about the energy sector, meaningfully benefiting from the sector, and overall.
I truly believe that local content and meaningful participation in the energy sector needs to start with an understanding and education of the sector. An example is understanding that there are certain skills and capital capabilities we do not have and how we are going to work with operators to achieve our goals in combating energy poverty and social challenges throughout the energy sector.
I believe that I can use my role as a vehicle to educate the Namibian nation on the energy sector for the purpose of meaningful participation.
Additionally, being on the ground and understanding the social challenges means using my role as a vehicle to be innovative in tackling these challenges and ensuring meaningful impact.
As a female executive in the energy sector, it is my duty to show other women that it is possible to be in the energy sector meaningfully.
At the same time, I have the very important duty to show and prove that women in the sector are capable, deliver, and have the skills to contribute to the sector.
Moreover, women should not, are not, and don't just want to be considered because we are women and that we can fill a quota, but that we have capacity, put in the work, have the skills, are capable, and deliver.
Quota-related decisions made at OPEC's 35th meeting last June in Vienna delivered a call to action for African member states to step up production through the remainder of the year and into 2024.
Many of OPEC's African member states had been struggling to produce enough crude to meet the targets set for them last year. As a result, they found themselves accepting even lower quotas this year.
Decisions regarding production cuts for African members Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria are summarized in the African Energy Chamber's (AEC) newly released outlook report, "The State of African Energy Q2 2023."
Our report also notes easing of the civil unrest that resulted in the exclusion of member state Libya from OPEC cuts for the time being.
OPEC's meeting, which included OPEC+ oil-exporting countries as well, resulted in a Declaration of Cooperation that delays further cuts to production targets until 2024 and continues voluntary cuts by nine member states until the end of 2023. Algeria and Gabon are the two African members among those volunteers.
The 2024 Targets and Expected African Production
OPEC's signed declaration calls for a significantly lower cumulative production target for African member states: about 4.33 million barrels per day (MMbbls/d) of crude oil.
A look at the targets of OPEC's two leading African oil producers — Nigeria and Angola — shows considerable reductions from the 2023 quotas set at the 33rd OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting (ONOMM). Nigeria's 2024 target, 1.38 (MMbbls/d), represents a reduction of 360,000 barrels per day (bpd), and Angola's quota went down by 175,000 bpd to 1.28 MMbbls/d.
Despite these reduced quotas, it is not anticipated that either country will reach theirs in 2024; Nigeria is expected to hit 95% of its target, Angola 75%. Nigeria, although estimated to be capable of producing 2.2 MMbbls/d, has faced challenges such as oil theft, sabotage, and technical issues.
Angola, despite increased oil and gas activity in 2023, has still strained in recent months to produce more than 1.1 MMbbls/d, far short of its current 1.46 MMbbls/d target from OPEC.
Congo is also expected to fall short of its production target, at about 10% less than allowed, while Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will likely produce slightly over their target numbers of 70,000 bpd and 177,000 bpd respectively, avoiding compliance as in the past. Of the members in sub-Saharan Africa, only Gabon has achieved its target this year.
Algeria in the north is another high achiever, with production capacity that exceeds its 2024 OPEC target of 959,000 bpd. It has agreed to cut output by 96,000 bpd to comply.
Meanwhile, its next-door neighbor, Libya, achieved an average of 1.26 MMbbls/d for 2023 after recovering from drastic production outages during 2022 civil disturbances. OPEC cuts for 2024 have not been set for Libya, allowing the country to use oil reserves to assist with reconstruction efforts.
Crude production in several African nations has been stymied by lack of adequate investment, political unrest, and technical issues associated with older wells.
Following an assessment of the Declaration of Cooperation by IHS, Wood Mackenzie, and Rystad Energy, the 2024 targets for Nigeria and Congo may be revised based on their anticipated levels of production.
Strategies for a Better-Than-Expected 2024 and Beyond
The delayed OPEC production cuts clearly showcase an urgent need for African countries to up their current production numbers and prove that higher quotas are warranted, which would also increase African negotiating sway at future meetings.
The possibility of target modification "to equal the average production that can be achieved in 2024," particularly for Congo and Nigeria, was raised in a June OPEC announcement that followed the meeting. Angola was also mentioned as having production plans "subject to verification...before the end of 2024."
Acknowledging both the opportunity and the urgency, the head of geopolitics for London-based research firm Energy Aspects, Richard Bronze, stated that the deal "certainly creates an incentive for these three countries (Angola, Congo, and Nigeria) to try and demonstrate they can raise production before year-end, but we think they are unlikely to be able to manage it."
The time is now for African OPEC members to prove that they can achieve the higher output capability that warrants higher baselines.
The calls for government action that I and the AEC have stressed in recent years are more urgent than ever: African governments need to create the kind of positive, enabling climate that will encourage greater exploration and production. Good financial policies will help in that effort, as will ethical, transparent, and efficient governance.
Prioritizing speedy adoption and execution of measures to achieve these goals will bring what is most needed to boost African production numbers — increased interest from international oil companies and investors.
A united effort to awaken more investor interest in African oil should start now, as should cooperation among African members to present a more unified voice when the 36th OPEC meeting is held in November, 2023.
The OPEC - Africa Roundtable at the African Energy Week in Cape Town, will ensure Africa specific issues are addressed and as well as global energy security issues.
As S&P Global noted, this strategy would be "taking a page from their Middle East counterparts, who typically align their positions before contentious negotiations through pre-meeting consultations."
I encourage Africa's member nations to do what it takes to increase investment, production, and their influence at the OPEC table. You are stronger together.
NJ Ayuk is the Executive Chairman of African Energy Chamber
Deforestation is an alarming global issue with far-reaching consequences, and the activities of companies like Hoima Sugar have the potential to exacerbate this crisis. In the case of Bugoma Forest, the repercussions of deforestation are not limited to the environment alone but extend to food security, livelihoods, and the well-being of local communities. In this article, we will delve into the various ways in which Hoima Sugar's activities are endangering the delicate balance of Bugoma Forest and the people who depend on it.
Bugoma Forest, a lush and biodiverse treasure located in Uganda, has long been a source of sustenance for forest dwellers and neighboring communities. The deforestation linked to Hoima Sugar poses a grave threat to food security and sovereignty. The forest has provided an array of essential resources, including mushrooms, honey, wild coffee, yams, and a variety of vegetables and fruits. These natural bounties have been integral to the diets and livelihoods of those who reside in the vicinity. However, as Hoima Sugar's activities continue, these resources are becoming increasingly scarce.
One of the most concerning aspects of this deforestation is the potential depletion of these vital forest goods. Mushrooms, for instance, are a significant source of nutrition and income for many families. Honey, often harvested sustainably from the forest, not only serves as a food source but also as a source of income. The wild coffee, yams, and various vegetables and fruits contribute not only to the local diet but also to the income generation of forest-dependent communities. The loss of these resources threatens the food security of these communities and undermines their ability to control their own food sources.
Beyond the immediate impact on food security, Bugoma Forest also provides other valuable resources that sustain the livelihoods and health of local communities. Rattan canes, found abundantly in the forest, are essential for making furniture and handicrafts. These products are not only a source of income but also a representation of the cultural heritage of these communities. Additionally, medicinal plants found in the forest play a crucial role in traditional healthcare practices, ensuring the well-being of the inhabitants. The destruction of the forest disrupts the delicate balance of these communities' lives, threatening their livelihoods and health.
Furthermore, deforestation activities bring with them an influx of migrant workers to Hoima Sugar's project site. This influx places added stress on the already dwindling forest resources, exacerbating the problem of resource depletion. An alarming consequence of this increased demand for resources is the shortage of fuelwood. Cooking is a daily necessity for every household, and for many, fuelwood remains the primary source of energy. The shortage of fuelwood places immense pressure not only on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve but also on the local communities that have historically resided in the area.
Women and girls, in particular, bear the brunt of this fuelwood shortage. Traditionally responsible for collecting fuelwood for cooking, they must now travel longer distances and expend more effort to gather the increasingly scarce resource. This added burden has significant implications for their daily lives, including reduced opportunities for education and employment. It perpetuates gender inequality and reinforces the cycle of poverty that many in these communities are already trapped in.
In conclusion, the activities of Hoima Sugar in Bugoma Forest are not isolated incidents of deforestation. They have far-reaching consequences that affect food security, sovereignty, livelihoods, and gender dynamics among forest dwellers and adjacent communities. The depletion of vital forest goods, such as mushrooms, honey, wild coffee, yams, and medicinal plants, disrupts the traditional way of life and threatens the well-being of these communities. Additionally, the influx of migrant workers and the resulting fuelwood shortage further exacerbate the challenges faced by local communities, especially women and girls.
To address these issues effectively, a holistic approach is needed, one that considers the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of the problem. It is essential that we prioritize the preservation of Bugoma Forest and support sustainable alternatives for both livelihoods and energy sources. Only through collective efforts can we hope to protect this invaluable ecosystem and the communities that depend on it for their survival.
Bugoma Forest, located in the heart of Uganda, has long been a sanctuary for biodiversity and a treasure trove of herbal medicinal plants. However, the wanton destruction of this pristine ecosystem has not only dealt a severe blow to nature but has also robbed Bunyoro of its invaluable heritage of rare and essential trees used for herbal medicine. It is crucial to recognize that Bugoma Forest holds not only ecological significance but also cultural and medicinal importance.
One of the compelling arguments for preserving Bugoma Forest lies in its status as an ancestral area. Many former kings, including the revered Omukama Kabalega, played a pivotal role in planting and nurturing various herbal medicinal trees within the forest. Their intention was clear: to provide natural remedies for their subjects and ensure the well-being of their communities. In doing so, they created a legacy that has sustained the health and vitality of Bunyoro for generations.
Among the irreplaceable losses resulting from the destruction of Bugoma Forest is the Prunus Africana, locally known as Entaseesa. This tree is a vital resource in the treatment of various ailments, including prostate cancer. It has been used by traditional healers for centuries and is a critical component of Bunyoro's herbal medicine heritage. With the loss of Bugoma's pristine habitat, the survival of this important tree species is now at risk, and its medicinal properties may become scarcer.
Another significant casualty of the forest destruction is the Warburgia ugandensis tree, commonly referred to as Omusikambuzi. This tree plays a pivotal role in the production of Covidex, an herbal remedy that gained international attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covidex, developed from traditional knowledge and practices, was hailed as a potential treatment for respiratory illnesses. The destruction of Bugoma Forest not only threatens the supply of Omusikambuzi but also endangers the rich cultural and medicinal practices associated with it.
Tamarind (Omukooge) is yet another tree that has called Bugoma Forest its home. The fruits of the tamarind tree are renowned for their medicinal properties, including their ability to help maintain healthy blood pressure and their antioxidant benefits. Losing access to this resource affects not only the traditional medicinal practices of Bunyoro but also the potential for scientific research and the development of new medicines.
The loss of Bugoma Forest is not merely about the quantity of these rare medicinal trees; it is also about the quality of the resources we have lost. Traditional herbal remedies often rely on a delicate balance of various plant species, and the destruction of Bugoma Forest disrupts this intricate ecosystem. The synergy between different plants in the forest contributes to the efficacy of these remedies, and the loss of any single species can have far-reaching consequences for both traditional medicine and potential scientific breakthroughs.
It is essential to view the destruction of Bugoma Forest as a loss that extends far beyond environmental degradation. While the devastating impact on biodiversity is undeniable, the depletion of our herbal medicine heritage is equally alarming. The ancestral connection to the forest, through the efforts of past kings like Omukama Kabalega, underscores its cultural significance as a source of healing and well-being for the Bunyoro people.
In conclusion, the destruction of Bugoma Forest is a tragedy that reverberates on multiple levels. Beyond its ecological significance, it represents a profound loss for Bunyoro's herbal medicine heritage, disrupting traditional healing practices and potentially hindering future scientific advancements in the field. To honor the legacy of past kings and safeguard the well-being of future generations, urgent action is needed to protect and restore this vital ecosystem. We must recognize the forest's intrinsic value as a source of both cultural and medicinal wealth and commit to preserving it for the benefit of all.
Ruth Kyarisiima is the Programs officer at Strategic Response on Environmental Conservation (STREC)
In an era defined by growing environmental awareness and collective commitment to combat climate change, global infrastructure developments must align with the global pursuit of a climate-safe future.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) which aims to transport oil from Uganda to Tanzania has come under intense scrutiny for its potential impact on the environment and its compatibility with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse emissions.
While Uganda, a country known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife and vibrant culture, has been making strides in the past years to develop a climate-safe future plan.
However, the ongoing developments surrounding the East African crude oil Pipeline have raised significant worries about the nation’s commitment to environmental sustainability and ability to achieve its climate goals.
According to the Uganda National Metrological reports (UNMA) 2019, the climate change country profile for Uganda shows a statistically significant decreasing trend in the annual rainfall with a temperature rise of 1.3 degrees delicious. The increasing temperatures have resulted in increased trends in the frequency of hot days and nights.
However, with the EACOP the climate crisis in Uganda stands to worsen as the full value chain emissions of the 25-year lifetime project is estimated to yield 377.6 million metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.
This includes construction phase 0.24Mt CO2, Operational emissions 6.55 MtCO2, refining stage 34.52 MtCO2 and Product use Emissions 330.71MtCO2.
In this foreseen dangerous trajectory of Green House Emissions in the atmosphere, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) assessments still warns nations of the dire rise in global temperatures that will consequently descend on humanity’s health and livelihoods which may further spark situations like flash flooding due to rise in sea levels, heat waves, food insecurity unforeseen worse case scenarios of poverty and death amongst populations.
An increase in temperature or changes in rainfall intensity, distribution, and patterns are likely to have a direct effect on ecosystem functions, services, and species distribution and survival throughout Uganda.
Projected climate change is likely to adversely affect the hydrological cycle of forested water catchments by weakening their capacity to maintain water cycles and recharge groundwater.
This impact is likely to lead to a significant shift in flora and fauna distribution, disturb the ecological balance between species, cause habitat degradation due to the increased prevalence of invasive species, and increase the occurrence of wildfires. As a result, the overall availability of ecosystem-specific goods and services that support human livelihoods is expected to be adversely affected.
In the wake of all this, Uganda has to rethink its path toward promoting inclusive climate-safe and low-emission developments as nationally committed in program 9 of NDP3 and National Climate Change Policy 2015.
It should as well honour Article 2.1(c) of the ParisAgreement which calls on parties to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient developments.
Governments, corporations and export credit agencies giving insurance and guarantees to these atmospherically dirty fossil projects should reconsider their investment decision and prioritize investments that accelerate the transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.
It's only by making choices that prioritize both economic development and environmental protection can we hope to create a future that is truly climate-safe and sustainable for generations to come.
Okwi John Peter is the Programs Officer at Environment Governance Institute
With the frequent crossing of the elephants to the gardens the area is one of the hot spots for the human – elephant conflicts in Uganda.
Some farmers have built makeshift houses near the National Park boundary where they sleep at night to be able to repulse the elephants which mostly cross to the gardens in the evening and at night.
In their research, Mutungi Sam and Bruce Robin Nyamweha of Mountains of the Moon University cited that as a protection measure against elephants, most respondents (63%) said they call park rangers, 17% said they opt to kill the elephants, 10 said they scare them with spears, 5% said they always run from the animals and 5% seek police help.
TABLE SHOWING PROTECTION ACTION BY RESIDENTS AT THE SIGHT OF ELEPHANTS
CALL PARK RANGERS
OPT TO KILL THE ELEPHANTS
SCARE THEM WITH SPEARS
ALWAYS RUN FROM THE ANIMALS
SEEK POLICE HELP
Mwireri Erios who has a cassava garden near the park says the elephants are a big threat to their harvests.
Moses Agaba the coordinator of the Katara Women’s Group says they came up with the initiative of bee hive fencing after witnessing the elephant population in the area reducing because angry residents were poisoning and spearing to death the elephants out of anger.
He says they started the project in 2019 with few beehives but have kept on increasing, putting the beehives where the elephants usually cross.
According to Agaba, since they started the erection of the bee hives around the park., the challenge of human-elephant conflicts is reducing.
People now grow their crops and they aren’t destroyed by elephants except elephants penetrate where there are no beehives so their target is to cover the whole boundary 10km park boundary with beehives. They have so far covered approximately 3kms.
Leticia Nayebale, 22 years old, is a member of the Katara Women’s Poverty Group which has set up beehives along the park. She says the frequent crossing by the elephants forced her to join the group and set up hives. She currently owns 25 bee hives.
Nayebare explains, “We normally dig around the park but after digging the animals attack and destroy our crops. Now after they brought this idea of using beehives to prevent elephants from crossing to our gardens that is why I engaged in having those beehives there at the park to be like my fence. Now the animals which were disturbing us can’t even come.”
What prompts elephants to cross to the gardens
Ritah Murungi, the Ruibirizi District Natural Resources Officer, says communities have some kind of land shortage so they prefer using the land adjacent to the protected areas for agriculture.
She says the majority of the farmers at the park boundary plant food crops like watermelon, tomatoes, cassava, cabbage and others which are palatable for the animals and thus attract them.
“Usually, they plant food crops that attract elephants like watermelon, tomatoes and onions. When they (animals) come they do a lot of destruction which is affecting the community. Whenever people see those animals, they try to kill them so that they reduce their (animal) population. That is now the scenario that we have in,” Murungi elaborates.
The elephants mostly cross to the gardens in the evening and at night so the residents have to keep in their gardens to chase the herbivores which can eat up to ten acres of plants in one night.
Beehive fencing proving effective in mitigating human-elephant conflicts
The Rubirizi district Senior Entomologist, Geofrey Muhindo, says these beehives are erected at the park boundary so that when the animals attempt to cross to the gardens, they hit the beehives and awaken the bees.
He says the elephants fear bee sting and as such cannot stay in an area where they sense the presence of bees.
“Of course, elephants come not knowing that there are bees. We have set up a long line of beehives. It is our trap. When they come, they bump into the bees and the bees wake up and try to defend themselves by stinging the elephants.
All of a sudden you see elephants running away not crossing into farmers’ fields. That is practically how it works.” Muhindo explains.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Warden In charge of Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Captain John Tugume, says several methods including the digging of pits or trenches and the use of the electric fencing around the park have not yielded much result.
He says the electric fence is expensive (one kilometre of electric fence takes almost Ushs50 million) but also, the elephants are wise and oftentimes fill the trenches with soil and then cross over.
According to a yet-to-be-published research by scholars from Mountains of the Moon University, crop damage is at 1.7% in areas with apiary while in regions without apiary, it stands at 98.3%.
Human deaths in areas with apiary are at 0% but where there is no apiary, it is at 100%. Human injury in areas with apiary is reported at 3.8% and 96.2% in areas without apiary. Property destruction is 0% in areas with apiary and 100% without apiary. The same research also indicates 0% livestock predation in areas with apiary and 100% without apiary.
They also make up a big percentage of the animals in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. However, the numbers have been reducing over time due to human-elephant conflicts.
Moses Agaba says his group adopted the use of bee hive fencing after realizing that the elephant population and the tourists that visit because of elephants were reducing as a result of the human-elephant conflicts
“Before we started this intervention, we made reports to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The UWA don’t give any compensation so people started poisoning the elephants. Women who do farming at the boundary deployed strongmen to kill the elephants,” Agaba reveals.
Adding, “After a long time losing our elephants, tourism in our area reduced. We get many tourists who come to visit Queen Elizabeth to see elephants so when people kill all the elephants in the area, we lose out. That is why we started beekeeping to save elephants and promote tourism in our areas,”
Apiary and crop yields around the park
The beekeeping is helping in improving crop yields around the park. The bees pollinate the flowers as they go about collecting nectar which results in the flourishing of the crops around the park.
Moses Agaba says they indeed get high crop yields around the park because of the bees a reason most of them have embraced apiary to not only chase elephants but also improve crop yields.
Apiary and improved livelihoods for communities
The beekeeping has not only solved the human-elephant conflicts around the park but it is also a source of honey and bee products which the women of Katara Poverty Alleviation Group sell and get money for other basic needs.
“I have my brothers who had stopped schooling because of not having money to take them to school but since we started having the beehives, we are getting honey and can sell that honey to take them to school. Even me as a youth I can get what I need rather than requesting from other people,” Nayebare, a member of the Group states.
Murungi, a Natural Resources Officer, affirms that indeed the people harvest a lot of honey products from the hives around the park which they sell and improve their livelihoods. She says in a season they can get about 200 kilograms of honey which is processed by the Katara women themselves and then packaged.
Murungi notes, “The market for honey is not a problem. The problem is the production to serve the market [meet the demand]. We have many lodges around that use a lot of honey. The availability of the market has led to the scaling up of this intervention. The bees deter wild animals but at the same time, farmers benefit through the sale of honey products, and tourism. Farmers find themselves having a better livelihood,”
Muhindo, also an entomologist, says the sale of beehive products like honey, wax and propolis, which are much sought after by people, also generates income from agrotourism. People come from different parts of the world to learn about the practice of beehive fencing in Katara village.
Challenges to beehive fencing around the park
The major challenge currently experienced by beekeepers around the park is the use of pesticides which kill the bees and also contaminate the honey. Muhindo says the challenge is so big, especially in the cotton-growing areas where farmers use a lot of pesticides in their gardens.
“Watermelon and tomatoes use a lot of pesticides so these affect the bees. When bees come to pollinate flowers of these crops they also consume the pesticides which affect their health and eventually reduce in population.” Muhindo notes.
According to Captain John Tugume, pesticides do not only kill bees but also affect the quality of honey which is sometimes rejected in some markets.
“I have always told them that spraying especially neighbouring the park is very bad. It contaminates the honey yet people want organic honey without chemicals but when bees go and get pollen grain from sprayed flowers it will automatically be carried into the honey and when they are checking they will find the honey contaminated,” says Captain Tugume.
Tugume says the farmers are being sensitized to get away from the growing of crops which need regular spraying and instead focus on growing crops like coffee or tea which don’t need spraying.
He says coffee and tea also don’t attract herbivores and can help in supporting the natural vegetation around the park for bees to collect nectar.
According to Tugume, their sensitization has resulted in Kicwamba Sub County leading in coffee and tea production in Rubirizi district.
Agaba also says they need to be helped to get metallic stands for the bee hives. He says they are currently using wooden stands which are not effective because sometimes when the beehive is heavy the stands break and the beehives fall.
He says they need to introduce metallic stands so that their beehives can stay longer.
Paul Mulondo, the coordinator forests and biodiversity program at The World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Uganda the organization working in partnership with UWA to implement the beehive fencing project, says the method has been used successfully in Kenya around the Masai Mara and in different places surrounding protection areas in Tanzania.
He says with the available statistics there is confidence that bee hive fencing can greatly reduce human-elephant conflicts and also progressively improve the livelihoods of the people especially the women around Queen Elizabeth National Park.
According to Mulondo, his organization is now working to ensure market linkages for bee products.
Captain Tugume says as Uganda wildlife authority and Kyambura Wildlife Reserve are looking forward to making Katara a model bee-keeping group in the entire western region.
He says they are looking at empowering Katara to see that other people, other groups across the country can come and see how beehives are arranged, how they make them colonized and how they are placed and how best they can also deter elephants entering community crops.
SDG 7 obligates member states to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Uganda’s electricity consumption rate affects the country’s GDP and prosperity therefore affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy is essential for inclusive development, and electricity plays an important role.
Uganda has energy resources, but access to reliable electricity is a barrier to its development. The energy resources potentials include renewables such as hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal, but of late government’s attention is rather shifting to tapping into oil and gas development for domestic power generation soon yet this is disastrous to the environment and contributes to climate change.
Furthermore, Uganda depends on hydropower for its electricity accounting for more than 80% of the country’s electricity supply, the other sources being thermal (8%), co-generation (8%) and solar (4%). However, the country’s sustainable energy transition is still being hindered by the government’s emphasis on large-scale hydroelectricity over other renewables, even when it is known that hydroelectricity is highly climate sensitive.
Uganda government’s preference for large hydro-power projects in areas of rich ecosystems and biodiversity, and eco-tourism sites is an environmental controversy, given the dependence on hydropower on natural systems (climate and water availability). These energy projects remain controversial given that Uganda is not lacking alternative renewable energy resources.
Therefore, as Uganda strives to attain a middle-income status country, building climate resilient and transiting to decarbonised energy systems is not only a necessity but transformational to reducing energy poverty, increasing access to clean and affordable energy services, spurring investment and economic growth, job creation, improved health and poverty reduction.
Rachael Amongin is a communications assistant at AFIEGO