Trees and Watershed Management in Karamoja, Uganda. Evidence on Demand. Climate & Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods. A quick desk study commissioned by DFID Uganda
Karamoja is a dryland sub-region in north-east Uganda. Having suffered historical injustices, it now faces many difficulties, including civil and administrative challenges. Karamoja performs poorly on development indicators compared to other parts of Uganda: 82% of its population lives under the poverty line. Its infrastructure is underdeveloped, and the subregion is troubled by climate variability and climate change. Drought and shifts in weather result in low agricultural productivity and declining rural production systems. Floods and droughts have had a particularly detrimental effect. From consultation with experts and a literature review, there is wide evidence of the benefits that trees confer to communities in Karamoja. We see various options for action with respect to trees in watershed management: the use of trees for flash flood control; erosion control and waterway fixation; resilient crop production; resilient livestock production; and efficient utilization of green water -- the precipitation that falls on the land, which does not run off into rivers, dams or groundwater but is absorbed into the soil. The use of trees needs to be mainstreamed in watershed management planning. Currently, many water resource management plans exist. An objective should be that watershed management organizations include trees in their planning. We advise that DFID develop capacity in organizations responsible for water management. From the intervention proposed -- namely that trees should be increasingly included in watershed management -- there are many opportunities for Karamoja. Since trees can make a difference to the livelihoods of the people of Karamoja, it is important to take these action points into account when further planning management of the watershed.