Margaret Shiwowo, a survivor of a landslide that struck villages in Bumwalukani Parish in Bududa District in June 2012, is a member of Bumwalukani Disaster Development Association that has embarked on tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change.
With support from the Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC) project operating in Mbale region comprising Mbale, Manafwa and Bududa districts, Bumwalukani Disaster Development Association is among twenty other groups that are engaged in various mitigation and adaptation strategies in the project area.
"Since forming the association in November last year, comprising 56 members, we have established beds for seedlings of trees and Arabica Coffee that we started distributing to residents in Bunamulembwa and Bunakasala villages that were badly affected by the landslides." Shiwowo said.
The association chairman, Ismail Bwaya, whose home was buried by the landslide, says their (association) target is to plant and distribute over 40,000 tree seedlings in Bumwalukani parish of Bulucheke sub-county by May this year.
TACC has not only educated the community about the best tree planting practices but has also given out a goat to each family to help improve the livelihood of the landslide victims, many of whom are still living in tents after their houses were destroyed.
In Tsutsu Cell of Bududa Town Council, Justine Manashe, a mother of three children does not regret associating with When Rain Fails, a community based organization (CBO) that has implemented TACC energy saving stove technology that has greatly cut down on the quantity of firewood used in preparing food for the family.
"The simple technology of using brown soil from an anthill and grass to mold energy saving stoves is being adopted by many homesteads in the community where getting firewood or charcoal is very costly." Manashe said.
Ramula Wakoko, a mother of six children in the same village, says introduction of energy saving stoves is a big relief in the area where firewood is a scarce commodity.
"Apart from using less firewood in cooking, energy saving stoves have many other benefits like keeping the fire for long, not blowing into the fire every time while cooking, and producing less smoke." Wakoko said.
Wakoko says that under Village Environment Committees, homesteads are being trained to mold energy saving stoves in their kitchens. At the same time, they are sensitizing the community on prevention of soil erosion in the hilly terrain, and general home hygiene that includes having a good kitchen and a ventilated pit latrine to avert preventable diseases like diarrhoea especially among children.
In Bushula village, Khabutola sub-county in Manafwa district, TACC has helped in training members of KIFANGOKitsi Farmers NGO in agro-forestry and soil management.
According to the organization's chairman, Stephen Soyi, exchange visits have been organized by TACC for farmers to acquire knowledge in tree planting and improved methods of growing Bugisu Arabica coffee.
Over 28,000 coffee seedlings and 21,000 tree seedlings that include fruit trees like avocado and mangoes have been distributed to farmers in Khabutola and Nalondo subcounties as an environment protection strategy.
"Before TACC project was launched in Khabutola, members of KIFANGO used to receive only tree seedlings from the Government and other organizations. But inclusion of coffee seedlings has created impact on the community by encouraging farmers to plant trees on Namukhokhe and Fuluma hills that have been left bare after residents cut down trees for firewood and brick baking ." Soyi said.
"Through training, farmers have greatly improved farming skills while farm production has also improved including proper use of the limited land." Soyi added.
The exchange visits arranged by TACC project have enabled farmers learn about biogas and making of energy saving stoves. With technical support from Heifer International, in the last one year 33 families have been supported in the construction and use of biogas.
Mzee Israel Natandula, 63, a farmer of Buwamboka village in Kato sub-county in Manafwa district is all praises to TACC project working with Youth Ending Hunger, a community based organization that has supported him to construct a biogas project he uses for cooking and lighting while the biogas residues are used as organic manure in his banana plantation.
According to TACC Project Manager, Rebecca Nanjala, the project is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-financed by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) while the Ministry of Water and Environment is the executing agency and Mbale district local government, the Implementing Partner on behalf of Mbale Manafwa and Bududa districts.
The Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC) project is aimed at supporting the three districts to identify and develop projects that meet local needs while building resilience to climate change and TACC project has supported the three districts to develop an Integrated Territorial Climate Plan.
In an interview, the Mbale district chairman, Mr. Bernard Mujasi, added that TACC project was initiated by the Welsh Government in partnership with Mbale Coalition Against Poverty (Mbale CAP). The Chairman said that the Integrated Territorial Climate Plan will be launched this month to address several causes of climate change like deforestation and degradation of river banks in Mt. Elgon region, the source of many rivers on which millions of people depend.
A total of 20 climate change small grants have been awarded in the project area to interventions that include tree nursery establishment and tree planting, provision of heifers for zero grazing, briquette making by women groups, soil and water conservation, fruit growing, biogas and bee-keeping.
A pilot carbon management scheme for rural communities in the Mt Elgon region has been established to ensure a sustainable financing mechanism to support tree planting and adoption of use of improved cook stoves in the Bududa, Manafwa and Mbale districts. The scheme is expected to produce long-term verifiable carbon credits by combining carbon sequestration with rural livelihood improvement through small-scale farmer-led afforestation/coffee-shade agroforestry and improved cook stove project.
Nanjala says a platform for partnership, coordination and participation in addressing climate change challenges in Mbale region has been established to help the region build capacity in addressing and reducing causes of climate change in the target districts.
The platform is providing a useful forum to discuss common challenges and brings together non-governmental organizations and districts to mainstream climate change issues in development planning processes.
Through the platform, information from the project including climate change adaptation and mitigation actions are disseminated while non-governmental organizations use the information in developing their own proposals for sustainability.
It is expected that the government of Uganda will apply the results of the Mbale TACC Projectinitiatives in mainstreaming climate change within development planning throughout the country. The lesson learned and best practices in the project will be disseminated and replicated to other regions in the country as a key contribution to the UNDP-UNEP Global TACC initiative.