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Posts Tagged ‘Makerere University’

Climate change-resilient coffee in Uganda

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2013

KAMPALA, 3- In Uganda, a new pilot project seeks to understand the threat climate change poses to coffee, which will enable growers to enhance the crop’s resilie nce to extreme weather events.

Coffee contributes about US$400 million of Uganda’s total annual export revenue, directly or indirectly employing at least two million people. But coffee production, like other export crops in Uganda, is mainly rain-fed, making it vulnerable to climate variability.

“The economy of Uganda remains largely dependent on a few agro-commodities (coffee, tea, cotton), predominantly rain-fed and grown by smallholders with limited external inputs, making the country highly sensitive to climate risks,” Julie Karami Dekens, the International Institute for Sustainable Development‘s (IISD) project manager for climate change and energy, told IRIN via email.

The six-month pilot project, which was launched on 5 April, is a collaboration between Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), the local Makerere University and IISD.

The programme will explore climate vulnerabilities across the coffee value chain – the movement of coffee from farming to processing to marketing – with a view to expanding these assessments to other agricultural value chains. It reflects growing recognition that climate change will have far-reaching effects across the agricultural, administrative and economic sectors.

“Climate change is a multi-sector challenge, which calls for concerted efforts of not only the environment sector, but also the trade sector,” Norman Ojamuge, MTIC senior commercial officer, told IRIN.

Value chain development

According to a recent government briefing on the project, value chain development is crucial to the growth of agricultural commodities. But limited work has been done to understand the impact of climate risks along the levels of value chains. The project hopes to help bridge this gap.

A separate 2013 study, Climate Risk Management for Sustainable Crop Production in Uganda, noted: “There is a need to understand how climate risks are distributed and transmitted (or not) among all the stakeholders of value chains (not just at production level) to identify solutions that benefit all actors along the value chain and opportunities for investments.”

Incorporating climate change into agriculture will mean that “there will be a coherent and thorough integration of climate change adaptation and the associated disaster risk management agendas and structures. into sectoral and national strategies,” said Betty Namwagala, the executive director of the Uganda Coffee Federation.

Climate risks

Climate risks facing coffee production in Uganda include the increased prevalence of pests and diseases. For example, coffee leaf rust has been reported in many arabica coffee growing areas, with the black twig borer pest emerging as a threat in robusta coffee growing areas.

“If climatic events, such as exceedingly high temperatures, occur during sensitive periods of the life of the crop, for example during flowering or fruit setting, then yields will be adversely affected, and particularly if accompanied by reduced rainfall, thereby reducing incomes of all sector players”

There has also been a fluctuation in coffee production in Uganda over the past 40 years, a situation attributable to climate variability, reduced soil fertility and mismanagement, according to Uganda’s Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

Droughts and floods are also challenges.

“Water stress in the dry season affects the physiological activity of the arabica plant, causing a reduction in photosynthesis,” explained Namwagala.

“Some farmers have lost their plantations and lives to landslides that are attributed to climate change. Areas that depend on rain-fed agriculture may sometimes require irrigation, and taking into consideration the nature of our producers, many have abandoned their farms since they cannot afford irrigation or access to sources of water that can support irrigation,” she added.

“If climatic events, such as exceedingly high temperatures, occur during sensitive periods of the life of the crop, for example during flowering or fruit setting, then yields will be adversely affected, and particularly if accompanied by reduced rainfall, thereby reducing incomes of all sector players,” she said.

David Mafabi, a coffee farmer in the eastern Uganda district of Mbale, said: “Coffee production depends on nature. We suffer if there is too much [rain] or drought. As a result of drought, coffee does not mature well, and the harvest will be disappointing.”

Climate change can affect links further up the value chain, as well.

“More frequent or intense extreme weather events may deteriorate infrastructure such as storage facilities and roads, leading to reductions in crop quality and limited access to markets,” said IISD’s Dekens.

Development planning

The management of these climate risks is key to development planning.

Uganda’s development strategy relies heavily on exports – including coffee – to achieve the country’s ‘Vision 2040’ national development plan that aims to transform the nation from a low-income country to a competitive upper-middle-income country with a per capita income of about $9,500.

At present, some of strategies being used to minimize the negative impacts of climate hazards on coffee production include the breeding and selection of more disease-resistant and drought-tolerant varieties. Through the UCDA, coffee farming is also being introduced into new areas, especially in northern Uganda, to boost production and to test potential growing locations.

Coffee farmers are also adopting best practices such as crop diversification, intercropping and agroforestry. Still, further support in managing climate risk is still needed.

According to IISD’s Dekens, “Further studies are required assess the economic impacts of climate hazard[s] on coffee production. It is difficult to differentiate the costs associated with the impacts of climate risk on coffee production from that of other factors, such as reduced soil fertility and mismanagement, which also contribute to reduce coffee production in Uganda.”

so/aw/rz  source



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Nakivale is home to 68,000 refugees and 35,000 Ugandans – piloting mobile courts for refugees

Posted by African Press International on April 25, 2013

Nakivale is home to 68,000 refugees and 35,000 Ugandans (file photo)

KAMPALA,  – Uganda’s government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched a pilot mobile court system to improve access to justice for victims of crimes in Nakivale, the country’s oldest and largest refugee settlement.

The magistrate’s court, whose first session began on 15 April, will hear cases of robbery, land disputes, child rape, sexual and gender-based violence, attempted murder, and murder. The project – a collaboration of the Uganda government, UNHCR, Makerere University‘s Refugee Law Project (RLP) and the Uganda Human Rights Council – aims to benefit some 68,000 refugees and 35,000 Ugandan nationals in the settlement.

“With the nearest law court currently 50km away in Kabingo, Isingiro, access to justice has been a real problem for refugees and locals alike. As a result many fail to report crimes and are forced to wait for long periods before their cases are heard in court,” said a UNHCR briefing on the programme.

The mobile court will hold three sessions a year. Each session will last 15 to 30 days and hear up to 30 cases. Officials hope to extend the project to other refugee settlements in Uganda to enable more refugees to access speedier justice.

“Most of the courts are far away from the settlements, and refugee complainants faced challenges of transportation for themselves and witnesses,” Charity Ahumuza, programme manager for access to justice at RLP, told IRIN. “With the courts brought to them, the cost of seeking justice is reduced. The courts will also reduce the backlog of cases that exist of cases that arise in the settlements.”

“Refugees have welcomed this initiative since it is about bringing justice closer to them,” John Kilowok, UNHCR Protection Officer in Uganda, told IRIN.

Operational challenges

Experts say the project could face a number of operational challenges, including a need for funding and a shortage of trained court interpreters. Uganda has over 165,000 refugees from the Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan.

“The settlements are far away, and distance in accessing the court is likely to become a challenge. Language, too, will be a problem. The service providers through UNHCR are conducting training for interpreters to help in this issue,” said RLP’s Ahumuza. “The sustainability of the courts, I believe, will depend on availability of finances. However, the judiciary continues to face financial constraints.”

Angelo Izama, a Ugandan fellow at the Open Society Institute, says the shortage of justice in the refugee settlements is a reflection of poor access to justice across the country, a situation that needs to be addressed.

“Improving the delivery of justice helps tremendously given that, ordinarily, the severe case backlog makes matters worse for nationals – let alone foreigners. The real crisis now is not providing refugees and nationals in western Ugandan fast relief but filling the many vacancies in the judiciary so that, nationally, justice is expedited,” he said. “While justice processes improved on our side can help communities – both Ugandan and foreign – live better governed lives, the ultimate investment would be in improving governance across the border.”

“There is need for a holistic approach to look at the refugee issues in Uganda. We have to look at policy, immigration and defence lawyers for fair trials. Will the suspects have access to defence lawyers, or will they be accorded with lawyers to defend them in court?” asked Nicholas Opiyo, a constitutional and human rights lawyer in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. “Sustainability is a very crucial element in this court… If they don’t put good and proper systems to support this court, it will be a waste of time and money.”

so/kr/rz source


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