- Climate change has the potential to bleak the future production of Uganda's major export, coffee, a British charity Oxfam warns in a report, urging the government to speed up the process of adapting to climate change by immediately implementing the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA).
The East African country is Africa's second biggest coffer producer, ranking behind only Ethiopia, which emerged on top after a five-year political conflict removed Côte d'Ivoire as the continent's leading producer.
The report, "Turning up the heat, Climate Change and Poverty in Uganda," said, "the outlook is bleak. If the average global temperatures rise by two degrees or more, then most of Uganda is likely to cease to be suitable for coffee. This may happen in 40 years or perhaps as little as 30."
Oxfam said the effects of global warming like increasing temperatures, more intense rains and storms, had resulted to erratic rainfall patterns in Uganda.
In 2007/08 season, coffee output had gone up from 2.7 million to 2.85 million bags.
According to Oxfam Country Director in Uganda, the first hand devastation caused by the floods and landslides last year is a cause for concern, especially when scientific experts warn that the current change in climatic conditions is just the beginning of these sorts of natural disasters.
“Rich nations must cut their greenhouse gas emissions, but unless poor countries increase adaptation efforts, we are likely to see increased deaths and displacements due to hunger, floods and landslides as well as epidemics as a result of climate change,” Savio Carvalho said.
Oxfam report represents the voices of suffering rural and urban poor men and women who have become victims of increasing droughts, floods, epidemics and food insecurity caused by climate change.
The charity wondered why Ugandans, whose contribution to global has been miniscule, are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst.
The increase in erratic rainfall in the March to July rainy season had brought droughts and reductions in crop yields and plant varieties. But the rainfall towards the end of the year is more intense and destructive, Oxfam said, bringing floods, landslides and soil erosion. As such, Uganda's "coffee crop is in danger of extinction if temperatures rise too far."
People's capacity to adapt to climate change, the charity believed, would achieve a double benefit by contributing to the goal of overcoming poverty and suffering in Uganda and achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (MDGs).
"It would be hypocritical for anyone to expect the world to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals while at the same time ignoring the major drivers of poverty, among which is climate change. Achieving the MDGs by 2015 is dependent on availability of adequate resources and opportunities to poor people, especially the rural population that depend on agriculture and natural resources, which are all under serious threat due to climate change," said Carvalho.
The report is the product of a research visit to several parts of the country where Oxfam listened to poor victims of climate change effects. Rural Ugandans explained how their livelihoods and traditions face serious threats and even possibly ultimate extinction.
John Magrath, who led the research, said “climate change is happening and makes life more difficult for poor people.. There is need for concerted efforts from government authorities, local leaders, policy makers as well as civil society. These include environmental measures to reduce deforestation and restore wetlands, as well as measures to reduce poverty, like providing basic services like health and water, investing in agriculture and strengthening pastoralism through ensuring mobility."
Oxfam has called on industrialised countries to rapidly and drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Rich countries must also make sure that no NAPA fails for lack of finance, and must go on to fund adaptation costs in full and in addition to existing aid commitments, the British charity said.
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