Community utilisation and associated impacts on wetlands a case of Agu wetland, Kumi District, Uganda
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This study investigated community wetland utilization and associated impacts in Agu wetland in Ngora SubCounty and Kobwin SubCounty in Kumi District. The study was based on three objectives that is: i) document different human activities in Agu wetlands, ii) assessing household incomes among wetland user groups, and iii) assessing impact of human activities on Agu wetland. Cross sectional research approach was used to collect data from 102 households who were actively involved in the utilization of the wetlands resource in Agu wetland out of the estimated 139 households living in and around the wetland. Data were collected by use of structured questionnaire, interview guide and focused group discussions. The study revealed that, although Agu wetland has contributed to rural livelihoods in terms of direct income, food security and other wetland ecological services derived from wetland, human activities for example: burning of wetland vegetation, animal grazing, wetland cultivation, brick making, over fishing and harvesting papyrus and other wetland vegetations had negatively impacted on the wetland resulting in an estimated 25% habitat loss and 43% reduction in species for both fauna and flora over the past 10 years. The research revealed that, poorest households were more engaged in wetland activities and there was a positive correlation between the levels of poverty and level of wetland utilization activities. The results indicated that, cutting of trees, harvesting of papyrus and cultivation of wetlands had a significant and positive relationship with household income as indicated by Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.67, 0.396 and 0.344 respectively. The local governments have not been actively involved in coming up with possible management regimes to guarantee sustainable use of the wetland resource yet this wetland plays vital role in supporting community livelihoods in and around the wetland. From the findings, it’s clear that there is need to come up with strategy to address sustainable use of the wetland resource by the different resource user groups.