The Observer (Kampala)

15 September 2013

Uganda: Belgium Gives Sh6 Billion for Uganda's Cattle Corridor

Belgium has offered 2m Euros (Shs 6.8bn) towards efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change on thousands of farmers in Uganda's cattle-corridor.

Natural disasters such as floods and long spells of drought, have contributed to diminishing crop and animal productivity in the corridor over the recent years. The cattle corridor includes Ankole sub-region, Sembabule, Luweero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mubende and Kiboga, among others.

The Belgian aid will go to a project which is in line with the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) programme, initiated by the agriculture and Water ministries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will directly supervise the implementation of the Belgium-funded aspects in these districts.

Belgian Ambassador Alain Hanssen and FAO Country Representative Alhaji M. Jallow last Thursday signed an agreement for FAO to implement the two-year project on behalf of the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and ministry of Water and Environment.

According to the project manager, Kennedy Igbokwe, the money will be used to equip district officials and farmers with relevant knowledge and avail facilities that can help them cope with climate change threats. Small-scale water harvesting systems, which include valley dams and water tanks, will particularly form the core of the project's works, Igbokwe said.

He said there would be rehabilitation of six watershed catchment areas each in respective districts. According to agriculture experts, recent drought and prevalent siltation of valley dams and tanks have increased water stress in the livestock sector, leading to overgrazing around the few water sources in the affected districts.

The cattle corridor, which covers 18 districts, is dominated by livestock production with scarce water and pasture, due to effects of climate change. Another Shs 32bn programme, funded by the European Union, is being implemented by FAO in the cattle corridor to boost farmers' resilience against unpredictable weather patterns and their effects.

In his remarks after signing the agreement, the Belgian ambassador said: "Supporting farmers adapt to climate change has been an important part of the climate change policy of the Kingdom of Belgium and will remain so in the foreseeable future."

On his part, FAO's Jallow said climate change was one of Uganda's major challenges to food security and agriculture because of the effects on the basic elements of food production and biodiversity.

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