Data released by the National Forestry Authority in Uganda reflects that the country’s tree coverage increased from 9% in 2015 to 12.4% a mere two years later (in 2017). Illegal logging poses a huge threat to forests not only in this country, but many others across the world, but Uganda has figured out that the way to ensure that reforestation is successful is to encourage citizens to grow their own trees.
As trees grow, they help remove carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the soil and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, and are viewed as being essential to halting global warming. Residents of the more than 500 protected areas that make up the Central Forest Reserves of Uganda, which make up around 15% of the nation, claim that the loss of trees has made communities more vulnerable to the frequently disastrous consequences of unpredictable weather patterns.
The biggest flooding in recorded history occurred in Uganda in 2020, forcing more than 700 000 residents who lived near lakes and rivers to leave their homes. This was the result of an abnormally heavy rain year.
At least 717 people were forced to flee their homes as a result of flash floods that were recorded in Nakasongola District (Central Region) on 6 July, 2020. One health center reportedly experienced flooding, which interfered with medical services, according to Relief Web.
Deadly weather conditions
Parts of Uganda had been experiencing severe weather, including lightning and torrential rain, which led to fatalities and the eviction of residents. According to the Uganda Red Cross Society, a severe lightning strike on August 27, 2020, caused eight deaths in the Arua District. On August 26, flash floods in the Bundibugyo District damaged nearly 200 homes, having an impact on hundreds of residents. Over 8 700 people had been uprooted from their homes in northern Uganda, the central region of Uganda, and western Uganda due to the rising water levels on Lake Albert and Lake Kyoga.
New flash flooding incidents were reported in Kasese District on October 26, 2020, hitting the communities of Isule and Kyabikuha in the Maliba sub-county. 7,179 individuals were displaced, 2,743 of them were residing in IDP camps, and 4 436 were staying with relatives. There were two fatalities. Flooding and landslides have already impacted the Kasese District in May and August.
In October, the districts of Kagadi, Kaberamaido (Kalaki), Kumi, and Katakwi experienced flooding events brought on by the rising water levels in Lakes Albert, Kyoga, and Bisina. A total of 10,815 people had recently been relocated out of the 78 719 impacted individuals (12 332 households). A further 64 districts had flooding and landslide incidents as of October 2020.
Land-hungry farmers blamed
According to the NFA, the land in Uganda covered by forests had gone from nearly a quarter in the 1990s to 9% in 2015. The body blamed the decrease in trees to land-hungry farmers, saying that of the 1.9 million hectares of forest and wetland destroyed between 1990 and 2015; approximately 80% had been converted to grow crops. The NFA has employed a variety of techniques, such as encouraging agroforestry—growing food and trees together on the same land—and managing tree-planting initiatives.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a local non-profit organisation called NatureUganda, are among the partners who support the authority’s technical assistance to farmers planting tree plantations to prevent individuals from destroying trees in protected areas. The NFA has a goal for 24% of Uganda’s territory to be covered with trees by 2040.