ENVIRONMENT

Conservationists to involve communities in Rwenzori climate change disaster recovery

Violent floods in May 2020 destroyed about 25,000 houses (PHOTO /Courtesy)

KASESE — World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Uganda has launched a Nature-based Solutions (NbS) approach to mitigate climate change effects in Rwenzori region.

Nature-based solutions are seen as a fundamental component of action for climate and biodiversity.

Mr. Yonah Turinayo, WWF Cordinator for Energy and Extractives Programme describes the approach as win-win solutions that strengthen the connection of people and communities to nature and involve protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems to address climate change and promote human and environmental well-being.

In a interview on Thursday, Turinayo said the 48-month program will implemented in Bunyangabu, Kasese, Rubirizi, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko and Kabarole.

He said the project seeks to conserve the environment, create habitats for endangered species, lower carbon emissions, restore natural beauty, and build resilience in climate-vulnerable regions.

Climate change is affecting the Rwenzori Mountains in different ways.

The most visible is the rapid loss of the ice field, which shrunk from 6.5 sq km in 1906 to less than one sq km in 2003, and could completely disappear before the end of this decade, research shows.

In 2012, forest fires reached altitudes above 4,000m, which would have been inconceivable in the past, devastating vegetation that controlled the flow of the rivers downstream.

Since then, the communities living at the foot of the Rwenzori have suffered some of the most destructive floods the area has ever seen, coupled with a pattern of less frequent but heavier rainfall.

In May last year, five local rivers burst their banks after heavy rains. The waters came down the mountain carrying large boulders, sweeping away houses and schools and razing the entire town of Kilembe to the ground.

Around 25,000 houses were destroyed and 173,000 people were affected.

Mr. David Duli who heads WWF in Uganda says the project seeks to reduce pressure on important natural resources for climate resilience.
He cites areas like timber value chain; charcoal, bamboo and honey industries.

“The project will adopt community driven NbS for climate change adaptation and mitigation in key ecosystems such as forests for water towers and areas of vegetation,” he noted adding that it will also raise awareness and capacitate the communities more prone to climate changes.

The end results, he adds, will increase the individual and community level resilience.

WWF Uganda Country Office will implement the project alongside Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), key local civil society hubs, District Timber Growers Associations and The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO).

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