Uganda: FAO Warns of Severe Dry Spell

Parched earth in a drought (file photo)
22 September 2020

Kampala — As floods wreak havoc across the country, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has warned of severe drought between November to February 2021 that will cause food scarcity in the country.

This warning was passed yesterday in Kampala during the handover of 190 motorcycles by FAO to 29 local governments in the cattle corridor, West Nile and Karamoja Sub-region.

Mr Antonio Querido, the FAO country representative, said agricultural extension workers in 29 districts would use the motorcycles to reach out to farmers and increase awareness on climate change interventions such as planting trees and water conservation.

"It is our hope that these motorcycles will assist the movement of the personnel of beneficiary government agencies and civil society organisations in providing the much-needed extension and awareness creation services to help farmers adopt climate-smart agricultural practices and build their resilience to climate-related shocks," he said.

Dr Emmanuel Zziwa, the climate change expert at FAO country office, told Daily Monitor in an interview that several districts such as Kabale, Luweero, Amolatar and Katakwi are already experiencing disastrous heat waves that affect agricultural productivity.

"The prediction of the drought that is expected to occur from November to February 2021 was made by Uganda Meteorological Authority," he said.

"From 1960 to 2010, Uganda experienced an average of one degree centigrade point increase in temperature. In some regions, the temperature has risen to close to two degrees centigrade points," he said.

Dr Sadat Walusimbi from Makerere University College of Agriculture and environmental sciences told Daily Monitor that available evidence shows that each rise in temperature causes an average of 30 per cent reduction in maize production.

Dr Sadat said although the immediate effects of climate change such as floods are evident, other issues such as prolonged dry seasons are causing havoc to farmers, threatening food security.

Mr Freddie Kabango, the assistant Commissioner of Soil and Water Conservation at the Agriculture ministry, said government is making efforts to increase irrigation.

"There is desire to have a production area under irrigation at 1.5mha by 2040. In order to achieve that, we will need to sustainably utilise our natural resources and to also come up with innovations/technologies, which can help our farming communities cope with climate change challenges while meeting their ever-changing needs," he said.

Mr Kabango added: "Agriculture in Uganda is majorly rain-fed and therefore prone to climate change. Climate change has impacted heavily on the prevalence of rainfall, quantity and distribution and has come with associated hazards notably pests and diseases, severe land degradation, extreme temperatures, loss of lives and habitats, among others."

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