Household perception of climate change in wetland adjacent areas in Uganda
Climate change is a major cause of food insecurity in developing countries, like Uganda where the poor people and small scale farmers have limited options for adaptation. Households adjacent to wetlands often adapt to climate change by depending on them for food security. However, interventions for climate change adaptation in developing countries are often poorly targeted due to insufficient data on climate trends. The objective of this study was to determine household perception of climate change in wetland adjacent areas, to inform climate change and adaptation policy in Uganda. The study was conducted at two sites, Lake Nakivale wetland system in Isingiro district (south-western Uganda) and Lake Kyoga basin wetland systems in Pallisa district (eastern Uganda). The study employed a cross sectional design, using a semi-structured questionnaire, and surveyed a total of 520 households. Results of the study show that a majority (92%) of the households were aware of climate change. Climate change was perceived by households in form of prolonged dry weather (54%) and hotter and drier seasons (34%). Over 90% of the respondents had noticed climate change in various forms: increased temperature (92%), decreased rainfall (95%), changes in the length of seasons (97%), more frequent droughts (93%), more severe droughts (92%) and more severe floods in Pallisa. Households perceived climate change in the form of increased temperatures and droughts, and generally had a gloomy outlook for the future, insisting that climate change will be more severe than currently experienced. More households in Isingiro district perceived climate change to be more severe in the future than expected (c2 (2) =43.67, P<0.001). Owing to the perception of more frequent and severe droughts and reduced rainfall, households around wetlands will continue to use wetlands for farming and other livelihood needs. Thus, unless wetland farmers (a) integrate wetland conservation by employing climate smart practices like minimum tillage, soil and water conservation, and (b) diversify their livelihoods through commercially viable initiatives like fish farming, household food security and sustainability of wetlands will be further jeopardized.
Key words: Adaptation, food insecurity, rainfall