Uganda is a landlock country located in the eastern part of the African continent. The country lies across the equator between 04°N and 01°S and covers a total area of 241,550 km2, of which 199,807 km2 (82.7%) is open land and 41,743 km2 (17.3%) is open water and wetlands.1 The country is bordered by Kenya to the East, Tanzania to the South, Rwanda to the South West, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the West and South Sudan to the North. Uganda has a diverse terrain that comprises of lowlands, the plateau, hills and mountains, which greatly influence the country’s physical and biological environments. The lowest elevation is at point at 620 metres above sea level in the western arm of the great East African rift valley in the Albert Nile while the highest elevation is 5,111 meters above sea level on Margerita peak in the Mt. Rwenzori Mountains.2 According to the 2019 Sustainable Development Report on SDGs, Uganda is ranked 142 out of 166 countries with a global index score of 53.5, and SDG 13 (climate action) is its best scoring goal while SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) is its worst scoring goal.3 Uganda has prepared its third National Development Plan (NDP III) for the period 2020/21-2024/25, whose goal is to increase household incomes and improve the quality of life of Ugandans. The plan targets sustained and accelerated growth and productivity in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas and tourism. The plan is also cognizant of the challenges and threats posed by climate change related disasters and risks.
Uganda has a warm tropical climate with moderate temperatures through the year, with mean daily temperatures at 28oC and the long-term mean near-surface temperature at 21°C. The highest temperatures are observed in the north (most especially the north-east) and lower temperatures occur in the south.4 The rainfall distribution is bimodal in which the main rainy seasons are from March to May and October to December, though the northern part of the country has a single rainy season from March to mid-October. Uganda receives annual average rainfall of 1,180 mm, but the rainfall is higher in the south where it ranges between 600 -2,200mm and 400 – 1,600 mm in the north. The country’s favourable climatic conditions make climate one of Uganda’s most valuable natural resources. However, as the country is located in the humid equatorial climate zone, it is prone to many meteorological hazards including droughts, rainstorms, flooding and landslides that are increasing in frequency and intensity as the climate changes.5
Uganda’s climate not only variable but is also changing which makes the country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change that are causing loss and damage. Between 1900 and 2010, average annual temperatures have increased by 0.8 – 1.3OC, and are projected to increase by between 2 – 5OC by 2100.6 The Future Climate for Africa, (2016) reports a significant decrease in rainfall experienced in northern Uganda. Projections indicate that rainfall totals will differ little from what is presently experienced i.e. within a range of less than, plus or minus 10% from present rainfall. However, less rainfall is expected to occur over most of Uganda, with slightly wetter conditions over the west and north-west, but rainfall totals are likely to drop significantly over Lake Victoria (-20% from the present). Seasonal variability in rainfall is expected to increase, with more intense rainfall occurrences expected.6
The most dominant and widespread climate change impacts are associated with drought, prolonged dry periods and dry spells. Droughts are recurrent climate hazard in Uganda and the notably occurred in 1967, 1979, 1987, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2017. The drought of 2017 was so extreme that it caused severe crop failure and caused more than one million people to be in urgent need of food aid. 7 Frequent droughts have been widely documented in north-eastern Uganda and the cattle corridor region. 8 Uganda is highly exposed to extreme temperatures, droughts, storms, floods and landslides which result into water scarcity, crop failure, loss of livestock, food insecurity etc. These make climate change a major threat to the economy and livelihoods.9
A study by Taylor et al., (2015) reported an average annual damage of US$237 million for each drought event that happened in Ugandan between 2000 and 2010.Between 2010 and 2013, the damages and losses from deficit in rainfall in the agriculture sector were enormous including crop production losses, animal deaths, livestock production losses, and higher production costs estimated at Euro 699 million. One of the major effects of droughts in Uganda has been on massive reduction in Lake Victoria and River Nile waters due to high evaporation from the surface of the lake and the river, low rainfall in the headwaters of the rivers that drain into the lake. In 2006, the water level of Lake Victoria dropped dramatically by one metre and the consequent drop of hydroelectricity supply by 148GWh.The power crisis led to restricted hydroelectricity supply to specific commercial sectors and hence a decline in the manufacturing industry productivity.10 Droughts are leading causes of migration especially in the pastoral communities in search for forage and water. The drought of 1999, led to massive migration of cattle keepers across the country.11 Forest biodiversity loss in Uganda at over 1% per year is associated with climate change.12 The loss in biodiversity is connected with loss of intrinsic values of species to the people and other species. The melting of Mountain Rwenzori glaciers also led to loss of cultural values such as its beautiful ice-sheets which were a source of cultural attachment, and local perceptions of the indigenous people in this region.13
When it comes to loss and damage associated with climate change. Uganda’s climate policy and NDC do explicitly mention loss and damage but only separately refer to ‘loss’, ‘damage’ caused by climate change. Related to above is lack of strong policy and institutional information management systems for loss and damage. This limits understanding and taking action to avoid or reduce future disasters and losses. This is manifested by the limited intentional information on loss and damage in Uganda. This would otherwise serve as basis for evidence of climate-induced loss and damage to support planning strategic and action specific interventions. livelihoods. Both economic and non-economic losses can be observed in Uganda, but they are not well documented to deepen understanding and inform policy on addressing loss and damage. Uganda is an active member of the LDC climate change group and supports action on loss and damage in the context of the Paris Agreement and the Warsaw International Mechanisms for Loss and Damage.