Economic benefits and willingness to pay for improved rangelands in Uganda
Mukama, Painento Charles
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Soil degradation, due to overgrazing and deforestation, is a serious productivity and environmental problem in the rangelands of Uganda’s cattle corridor. The rangelands cover about 43% of the country’s total area and supports 65% of the livestock population owned by 60% of livestock keepers. This phenomenon is attributed to communal ownership and open access to grazing resources (pastures and water) practiced by pastoralists and agropastoralists in these areas. To design appropriate strategies for rehabilitation and maintenance of the resource, comprehensive regular updates of information on the people and on the rangeland ecologies are necessary. A field survey using Contingent Valuation and Dynamic Simulation Model Methods were used to gather the vital information from Mbarara, Nakapiripirit, and Nakasongola where pastoralism is widely practiced; and Mukono where arable agriculture is the dominant feature of the production system The research established that 57% of the pastoral rangeland users were capable and willing to pay a mean fee of UGX 19,000 annually per square mile as rent for using rangelands if they were rehabilitated and contain adequate water and pasture. There were pastoralists who were already renting land at UGX 58,000. Analysis of the benefits arising from optimal management and open access systems of using the rangelands showed that the welfare of all people in the community was addressed in the optimal management system. It showed that open access system was monopolistic; costly to the society and not sustainable. The total economic benefits and expected returns from improved rangelands were UGX 42.7 billion and UGX 24.4 billion respectively. Therefore rehabilitation of the rangelands was justified as a viable venture. The findings conclude that a resilient policy should take care of the institutional, economic, cultural and social interests of the local community in addition to the ecology in order to achieve a cost effective and sustainable management of the natural resource.