• 1 The livelihoods of fishers are fishing, fish processing and trade but are now limited due to
    decline in the quantity and variety of fish associated with changes in climate and other stressors
  • 2 Satellite images from UNEP show that Lake Wamala shrunk to about one half its area between 1984 and 1995
    and increased between 1995 and 2008 but has not fully recovered with water gauges still on land by 2013
  • 3 Climate variability and change is causing floods and drought, affecting circulations of oxygen and
    nutrients in water, productivity processes, fish, crop and livestock production and livelihoods
  • 4 Plant and animal food of fishes is dominated by types that survive under low oxygen and
    unpredictable nutrient conditions
  • 5 The composition of fishes has shifted from dominance of tilapias to the African catfish and lungfish
    which are tolerant to low oxygen conditions and can adjust to the changed food conditions
  • 1 Cultivation to the edge of the water, extensive harvesting of papyrus, and spraying of pesticides
    exposes the water to siltation and contamination and should be managed in accordance with existing laws
  • 2 Communities have adapted to the changes in fisheries by exploiting emerging fishes
    like the African catfish and the lungfish, growing crops and grazing livestock in the lakeside areas
  • 3 Communities have adapted to drought by practicing irrigation and this is being
    promoted by introducing more effective and affordable systems like manual irrigation pumps
  • 4 More innovative communities around Lake Wamala have increased their income beyond fishing
    by diversifying to high values crops like pineapples, tomatoes, oranges and other horticultural crops
  • 5 Mr Swabi, although still fishing has diversified to crop farming, chicken and zero grazing cattle
    and practices drip irrigation during drought and has even been able to acquire a motorcycle
  • 1 Mr Lule has hang up his nets and diversified to pineapples and livestock and
    has been able to purchase a pick-up van for marketing his crops
  • 2 Some communities around Lake Kawi have diversified to high value crops, keeping a variety of livestock
    and collect water from roof tops for watering crops but to a lesser extent than Wamala
  • 3 The impacts of climate variability and change and contamination of the water can be reduced
    by planting appropriate trees in lakeside zones and preserving the papyrus fringes
  • 4 The communities are being sensitized on these impacts and adaptation strategies to increase their resilience
    to impacts of climate variability and change and sustain their livelihoods

  Project Title

Equipping Small Scale Fishers and Riparian Communities with Adaptation Strategies
to Cope with Impacts of Climate Veriability and Change

  Other collaborators and partners

i. Zonal agricultural research institutes of areas where the work will be based to monitor project activities on a more regular basis;

ii. District Fisheries Officers to coordinate fisheries issues in their respective local governments, oversee fisheries management issues and mobilize fisher communities;

iii. Beach Management Units (BMU) to coordinate fishers and riparian communities;

iv. District Environmental Officers to coordinate environmental issues;

v. District NAADS coordinators to link the project to the NAADS program;

vi. Graduate students to undertake field research under the project in order to build capacity in climate change issues.

  Problem and justification

About 240 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa including Uganda are poor and food insecure (FAO, 2010). About 40% of the GDP of countries in this region comes from agriculture and natural resources with 70-80% of the population depending on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources which are vulnerable to climate variability and change. Fisheries contributes >20% of per capita animal protein intake for >1.5 billion people worldwide and are important for food, employment, income and export earnings. In Uganda, fisheries contribute about 2.5% to national GDP and 12.5% to agricultural GDP, employs 1.2 million people, provides >50% of the animal protein food and generates >150 million US$ in exports earnings. Fish is a highly nutritive protein food containing Omega-3 fatty acids with health benefits including control of cholesterol levels and reducing heart and related health complications. Consequently, people have increasingly switched from red meat to fish. Riparian ecosystems are important for crop farming, grazing and as sources of water and more people are expected to move towards and use riparian ecosystems as fisheries resources are depleted and as climate variability and change makes rainfall less predictable or may require relocation or different technical approaches to address flooding of riparian ecosystems. In most parts of the world including Uganda, riparian ecosystems have the highest density of human and livestock population who depend upon it for livelihoods and this is expected to increase with increased variability and change in climate.

The most important fisheries in Uganda come from lakes Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, Edward, George and Wamala. The number of commercially important fishes from in these lakes has decreased from over 12 in 1950s to the current 6 and the overall fish species diversity has decreased. The decrease has mainly been attributed to over-exploitation, pollution, invasive species, and habitat degradation. The most important commercial fishes in Ugandan lakes are currently Nile perch (Lates niloticus L.), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.), Clupeids (Rastrineobola argentae Pellegrin, Neobola bredoi Poll and Brycinus nurse Ruppell), the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus Peters), the Lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus Heckel), and Semutundu (Bagrus docmac Forsk).

The average global temperatures had increased by about 1°C by the end of the 20th century and is accelerating and an increase of >2oC is expected to have both negative and positive consequences on ecosystems, resources and livelihoods (IPCC, 2007). The role of increasing global climate on the fisheries resources and riparian ecosystems has however received little attention.

Climate variability and change interacts with other stressors to modify hydrology, energy balance, circulation dynamics, production processes, stratification, mixing and recycling of nutrients and oxygen in aquatic systems (Lorke et al. 2004, Verburg and Hecky 2009, Vollmers et al. 2009, Tierney et al. 2010, Sitoti et al. 2010). This is expected to affect the aquatic environment, composition, diversity and life history of fishes and other aquatic organisms (Barange and Perry, 2009). It is the organisms that can tolerate or adjust that are expected to survive under a changing climate. In Lake Tanganyika, climate warming is thought to have contributed to a decrease in algal productivity by 20% and fisheries yield by 30% (O’Reilly et al. 2003). There has been a positive correllation between fluctuations in water level and fishery yield in Lake Chilwa (Allison et al. 2007). In Lake Chad the number of fish species decreased from 40 to 15 between 1971 and 1977 following a period of drought (Leveque, 1995 ). Climate change is expected to shift fisheries to smaller, faster growing, opportunistic species that can adapt fast to the changing environment (FAO 2010; Jeppesen et al. 2010). This trend has been observed in Lake Kariba where the changing climate is thought to have affected stocks of the pelagic kapenta (Ndebele-Murisa et al. 2011). In Uganda, stocks of the pelagic Mukene have increased in lakes Kyoga and Victoria and related species have increased to contribute 80% to fishery yield in Lake Albert. Studies by NaFIRRI on Lake Wamala show that there has been a shift in dominant fish species from tilapias to more environmentally resilient species like the African catfish (C. gariepinus) and the Lungfish (P. aethiopicus) and even the tilapias have adjusted their life history characteristics with changes in climate factors. It appears that climate change will shape future fisheries and other aquatic organisms and it is important to collect data that will inform management of what these fishes will be and to develop adaptation and mitigation measures to enable fishery dependent communities cope and become more resilient to sustain their livelihoods.

The National Development Plan (NDP) for Uganda, the Development Strategy and Implementation Plan (DSIP) of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), The East African Community and the Uganda National Policies on Climate Change have emphasized increasing knowledge, capacity and awareness as being key to addressing impacts and adaptation to climate change. There is however limited capacity, knowledge, policy, regulations, governance systems and awareness to enable small scale fishers and riparian communities adapt, cope and mitigate impacts of climate variability and change. Climate change has also not been incorporated into fisheries development and training programs.


The overall objective of this project is to increase capacity, knowledge, awareness and resilience of fisheries, riparian and aquatic ecosystems and communities to climate variability and change.

The specific objective

a) Improve capacity;

b) Improve knowledge on impacts of climate change on aquatic productivity, fisheries, biodiversity and livelihoods and identify adaptation strategies and mitigation measures;

c) Improve policies, regulations and governance systems; and

d) Increase awareness.

  Theory of change and impact pathway

Climate variability and change affects riparian and aquatic ecosystems with effects on physical and chemical conditions, primary and secondary productivity, food-webs, fish stocks, fisheries, biodiversity and livelihoods. This necessitates development of adaptation and mitigation measure to sustain livelihoods. For this to be achieved there is need to improve capacity and knowledge systems, and identify adaptation strategies which can be used by communities to sustainably manage ecosystems and resources to sustain their livelihoods. This requires improvement of capacity, knowledge systems, policies, regulations and governance systems, increase awareness, identify and test adaptation and mitigation measures.

  Indicators of project success

The indicators of project success will include:

a) Number of institutions and technical persons with capacity to address climate change in fisheries;

b) Number of information and data packages, climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation technologies, and fishers and riparian communities practicing adaptation strategies;

c) Number of policies, laws, regulations, strategies, policy briefs and action plans; and

d) Number of awareness packages and events, and stakeholders with increased knowledge to adapt to impacts of climate variability and change.

Research Plan and Methodology

Data on variability and changes in climate parameters, hydrology, physico-chemical conditions and lake productivity processes, fisheries, biodiversity and livelihoods will be collected from both literature and field observations. The field observations will be undertaken on lakes Wamala and George where fisheries are expected to shift to resilient species like the African catfish and the lungfish and Lakes Victoria and Albert where small pelagics have increased in importance. The project will work with one community on each of the lakes and each community will be visited once every three months of the year to cover the main seasons.


The key activities will include:

a) Undertaking a scoping study and diagnostic analysis of the ecosystems, resources and livelihoods in relation to impacts of climate variability and change to guide a more detailed intervention;

b) Creating a network of institutions and a team of scientists and stakeholders to implement the project;

c) Generating knowledge by reviewing scientific literature and collecting field data on climate parameters, riparian and aquatic ecosystems, productivity, fisheries, biodiversity and livelihoods;

d) Identifying impacts, adaptations and mitigation measures, and prioritizing, testing and promoting them;

e) Reviewing international, regional and national policies, regulations and governance systems and how they can be adopted or applied to address climate variability and change, adaptation, and mitigation measures;

f) Preparing and testing a training curriculum and manual;

g) Improving capacity and practices using the knowledge created;

h) Preparing information packages and conducting awareness raising events; and

i) Continually monitoring and evaluating outputs, outcomes and impacts of the activities.

  Gender roles

The roles of men, women and youths will be defined at different levels of project identification, design, and implementation. The different gender will be involved in project identification, design and implementation especially in identification, and testing of adaptation strategies and mitigation measures.

Communication and Dissemination The project will prepare an Information Communication and Outreach (ICO) strategy and action plan to guide dissemination information. Key components of the ICO strategy and action plan will include: a) Technical and popular versions of publications, scientific journal publications, brochures, posters, Newspaper supplements;

b) Policy reviews and briefs;

c) Video documentaries;

d) Information on websites, social media and multimedia;

e) Radio talk shows;

f) E-mails;

g) Mobile phone SMS;

h) Face-to-face discussions;

i) Fisher-farmer field schools;

j) Talks in training and public institutions and communities; and

k) Workshops and conferences.

  Monitoring and evaluation

The activities, outputs, outcome and impacts will be monitored continually by the project team, by management of implementing institutions, and by independent monitors against indicators of project activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts.

Value for money Value for the funds invested in this project will be determined from its activities, outputs, outcomes and eventually the impacts. These will be determined from indicators of project success especially the ability of communities in pilot areas to incrementally adapt and become resilient to impacts of climate variability and change including the potential for the tools developed to be up-scaled to other parts of the country and elsewhere in the region and the world.

Budget The budget estimate for the above intervention is estimated at US$ 600,000.


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