Climate Change and Community Survival
Rakai District is predominantly agricultural and people living here derive their livelihoods largely from crops, livestock and natural resources. Subsistence agriculture is the dominant economic activity, employing over 85% of the people. Crops grown include bananas, beans, potatoes, cassava, maize, sorghum, finger millet, fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, pineapples, onions and cabbages. Coffee is the main cash crop. Livestock raised includes cattle, goats, pigs and chicken. Therefore, people depend on the environment for survival; giving them opportunities for mainly agriculture and wood fuel. The activities of people entirely depend on the environment and for a very long time food production has depended on the climatic seasons of the area. Worse still, agricultural and natural resource management-related groups are scarce in the District. Amidst climate change, it is not surprising the food scarcity is a challenge for most households.
The crops no longer grow well and the yields are very low per unit land area. As a result, every year people are forced to work extra harder to have bigger gardens in order to meet the same needs (food especially) of the previous year. Worse still, because of its location, at the border with Tanzania and at the fringes of Lake Victoria, there has been an increase in population due to migrations into the area which has greatly affected the originally open grasslands and woodlands areas. The increasing population is exerting a lot of pressure on the natural environment and has resulted into encroachment on the woodlands and accelerated land degradation due to overgrazing. In addition due to the increasing population, the demand for food is ever increasing yet due to soil degradation and climate change the original farms cannot be able to produce enough food to meet the need. As a result, there is a rush to clear the few existing woodlands to create new gardens.
Most of the people do not have knowledge of better farming practices that can yield optimum output while maintaining soilfertility and protecting the natural environment. In fact, most people think that there is nothing they can do to improve the fertility of their soil. Although some farmers can abandon their plots once the yields have reduced which allows them to regain their fertility, many of them confess continued cultivation of the same land until almost nothing can be produced from them. The problem is that they continue to degrade the soil and it ends up washed away thereby degrading the environment further.
There is also a general belief that you need so much money to buy fertilizers in order to maintain the fertility of your soil which due to poverty most people cannot get. People have ‘left everything to God and do not have hope of addressing the challenges brought about by climate change. In fact, many youth are instead moving into the trading centres to try and
earn an income to support their families because their gardens can no longer produce enough. Unfortunately not many of them are lucky to find employment and this has increased crime rates in the trading centres.
This project aims at helping people to maintain fertility and productivity of the lands to avoid migration into the trading centers. It was intended to create awareness of environment conservation and management, teach people better agricultural practices which will lead to optimum food output per unit land area and therefore retract them from encroaching on the woodlands. Through agro-forestry the project will help modify the climate while promoting good nutrition through planting of fruit trees. The project also aims at changing the attitude of the people who believe that they cannot do anything to alter the situation and have “left everything to God” through sensitization. We believe that through this project people should also be able to engage in other income generating activities that are readily available in their environment and appreciate the need to protect the environment.
We are currently looking for individuals and/or organization with whom we can partner so as to be able to implement this project. If you can partner with us, Contact Us.