In March 2010, Uganda embarked on the preparation of its national process for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, fostering the role of forests in conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) through Readiness phase which is part of Uganda’s actions that contribute to the mitigation of climate change in the forest sector. According to the National Biomass Study (NFA 2009) a total area of Uganda’s forests as of 2005 was 3,594,550 ha, or 15% of the total country’s land area. The size of forest cover is declining due to high rates of deforestation nationwide. The ever-increasing human population of Uganda is a major cause leading to increased demand for agricultural land, fuel wood and charcoal production, construction materials and livestock grazing.
The Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), recognizes that considerable progress information has been generated so far. This information forms the basis for consolidating the National REDD+ Readiness phase which is intended to produce a socially and environmentally viable national strategy from reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as compared to a reference level that will have been determined during the phase. REDD+ is both a mitigation and adaptation action under the Uganda Climate Change policy (2013). The REDD+ process recognizes and seeks to collaborate with a variety of Climate Change initiatives and programs of government, NGOs, CSOs, Private Sector, forest dependent communities and the general public to ensure that appropriate strategies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are developed and effectively implemented.
On Wednesday, May 31 2017, the Ministry of water and Environment (MWE) with support from the UN-REDD National Programme organized a one-day meeting for women to discuss governance and policy issues at Colline hotel, Mukono to inform preparation of Uganda’s REDD+ Strategy development. The dialogue aimed at discussing governance and policy issues that have been generated from work so far undertaken to inform Uganda’s REDD+ strategy preparation and implementation.
Mr. Collins Oloya on behalf of the Director for Environmental Affairs Mr. Paul Mafabi thanked all the women for taking time off to attend the dialogue and emphasized that women’s input is instrumental in implementation of the National REDD+ Strategy. He made reference to Article 39 of the Uganda constitution which states; “Every Ugandan has a Right to a clean and healthy environment”. Every Ugandan has a role to play in reducing green House emissions for a clean and Healthy environment. Women need to discuss National Policies and Government issues that will enable environmental conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks.
A presentation was made by a member of the REDD+ secretariat on the status of the Uganda REDD+ Processes in which Forest Emissions Reference Levels(FREL) were discussed. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a reference Level is the benchmark for assessing a country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities. A forest by Uganda is 1 hectare 30% crown cover, minimum height of 4 meters.The presentation informed that deforestation Rates in Uganda are fastest on private land and slowest by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). One of the recommendations was to present one Reference level as a country and not different like National Forestry Association(NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) and Private land, continued data collection, involving more research institutions and embracing emerging technologies.
A vibrant discussion was held on the strategic options for REDD+ which include: climate smart agriculture, livestock management, sustainable fuel wood and charcoal use, large scale commercial timber plantations and energy efficient stoves among others was conducted. Women as the drivers of agriculture, energy use, land or resource tenure played a part in raising issues which included; cultural factors which affect women’s access, ownership and control of land, Governance issues, sensitization and awareness, policy implementation, population and technical capacity among others.
The women came up with recommendations for instance REDD+ should have a small branch program in order to enable local people engage greatly and tolook at affirmative action or strategies that include the minorities. They went on to suggest that forest governance issues, land tenure issues and gender consideration in REDD+ Strategy should be integrated. The women pointed out factors of awareness and sensitization of REDD+ strategy, Capacity building of women in agriculture and regulation of land since people tend to do what they want with their land. The women put emphasis on the fact that the REDD+ Gender strategy as a component should be strongly considered during implementation of the REDD+ Programme in Uganda.
Currently, Uganda is implementing the National REDD+ readiness phase which has delivered; a National Forest baseline scenario, National strategy and action plan, National Forest Monitoring system(NFMS) and a system developed for providing information on how safe guards are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of REDD+ activities.
The REDD+ Programme in Uganda is looking forward to incorporate the issues raised by the women during the dialogue to inform planning and phase 3 of the Programme which is to implement the REED+ activities. The strategy is going to work strongly for attitude change and behavior toward the environment in Uganda.
Program Assistant, Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy.