Water and environmental disasters/shocks include among others, floods, landslides, tsunamis, storms, heat waves, cold spells, droughts, lightening, waterborne disease outbreaks, pandemics etc. These are all becoming more frequent and more intense in past few decades. The impacts and costs of these events are exacerbated by such factors as unplanned urbanization, pollution, industrialisation, population growth, excessive release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and degradation of ecosystem services. Increased rainfall intensity and duration is causing more extensive flooding in both rural and urban areas. Flood protection measures that seemed adequate in the past, often no longer serve their purpose.
Severe weather including heavy rainfall and lighting has been affecting parts of Uganda, resulting in fatalities and people displacement in recent decade. In 2020 alone, number of areas have / are experiencing severe effects of floods that have displaced over 300,000 people, a number of key bridges and roads have been washed away across the country making transportation a nightmare for commuters, damaged over 20,000 houses (Uganda Red Cross Report 2020), water has been contaminated due to the collapse of latrines in rural areas. Furthermore, the May 2020 heavy rainfall resulted in the highest water level rise in Lake Victoria (13.48m) ever recorded since May 1964 in Uganda. This, eventually cascaded into the rise water level in the other major lakes (Kyoga, Albert) within the Nile basin in Uganda which caused flooding and displacement of the communities within the shores of the lakes.
It is these water and environmental shocks that awaken us to focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, integrated water resources management following catchment based approach, and effective environment management that are critical to the achievement of increased household incomes and improvement of quality of life of the population. Proper wetland management is critical for mitigating flood risks, marine ecosystem maintenance, maintaining water quality and quantity of water resources. Additionally, preserving water resources, environment and natural resources is critical for human health and tourism. Furthermore, mitigating the climate change orchestrated impact of droughts, floods, heat waves and landslides on the livelihood of vulnerable populations is critical for reducing income inequality, improving livelihoods and ensuring energy, water, food and ecosystem security. Sufficient precipitation occasioned by maintaining and/or increasing forest and wetland cover is vital for hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, wildlife and ecosystems.
This sub-theme will discuss how societies should manage and develop their water and environment resources to address risks associated with climate change at the same time improving people’s livelihood. The sub-theme will also focus on the role of research, innovation and adoption of green appropriate technology to foster sustainable use and management of water and environment resources and reduce human and economic loss from natural hazards and disasters.