Institutional development of wetland policy, climate change and household food insecurity in wetland adjacent areas in Uganda
A study of the “institutional development of wetland policy, climate change and food insecurity in the wetland adjacent areas of Uganda” was undertaken from June to October 2014. The overall objective of the study was to contribute to the livelihoods of wetland adjacent households by generating knowledge for sustainable use of wetland resources for reducing household food insecurity in wetland areas in Uganda. The specific objectives were to: (1) assess the implications of the institutional development of wetland policy for food insecurity in the wetland adjacent areas; (2) assess household perception of climate change, meteorological trends and vulnerability to food insecurity in the wetland adjacent areas in Uganda; (3) determine the prevalence of household food insecurity in the wetland adjacent areas in Uganda; (4) assess household property rights to wetland resources, wetland ownership and utilisation practices, and its effects on food insecurity in the wetland adjacent areas in Uganda; (5) and to determine the diet diversity of households in wetland adjacent areas. Data were obtained through review of information from secondary sources, 11 key informant interviews conducted, meteorological records for temperature and rainfall for the period 1984-2014 and a survey of 520 households. Results show that the institutional development of wetland policy in Uganda occured in three key phases: (1) period of Uganda Protectorate (1894-1962) when the Brittish and the kingdom of Buganda treated wetlands as wastelands; (2) post independence period (1962-1986) when natural resources management was neglected, wetlands were important agricultural areas for food production, and all land in Uganda were converted into public land by the Public Lands Act of 1975; and (3) promotion of traditional use of wetlands for livelihoods and as a conservation strategy, followed by conservation of wetlands for wealth creation. Over 90% of the respondents perceived climate change in form of increased temperature (92%), decreased rainfall (95%), changes in the length of seasons (97%), more frequent droughts (93%) and more severe droughts (92%). There was a significant association between wetland systems (study sites) and household perception of climate change (χ2=18.976, df=2, P<0.001). More households in L. Nakivale wetland system expect climate change to be more severe in future than it is now (χ2=43.67, df=2, P<0.001). A negative binomial model showed that adjacency to L. Nakivale wetlands, living in a permanent house, and an additional Tropical Livestock Unit (TLU) increased a households Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) by 4.08 (P<0.01), 1.91 (P<0.01), and 0.23 (P<0.05) respectively. About 93% of the households in wetland adjacent areas in Uganda were food insecure. Almost all households had access rights to wetland resources, 88% had withdrawal rights while about 28% had management rights. There was a significant association between households in L. Nakivale and L. Kyoga basin wetland systems and: (1) withdrawal rights to wetland resources (χ2=7.127, df=2, P<0.05) and (2) management rights to wetlands (χ2=7.405, df=2, P<0.05). In practice, 97% of the households from both study sites accessed wetland resources, 91% harvested resources from wetlands and about 70% carried out wetland management mostly through cultivation of wetlands. Commercialisation of wetland resources increased a households probability of being food secure by 2.7% (P<0.05) and reduced the probability of being totally food insecure by 12.7% (P<0.05). Only 2.1% of the households had the recommended level of diet diversity (>6 food groups). All other variables held constant, households adjacent to L. Nakivale wetland system were 3.3% more likely to have higher diet diversity than households in the Kyoga basin wetland system (P<0.001). An increase in the distance of a household from a wetland by 1km and an increase in the dependency ratio of a household by one unit increased the diet diversity of a household by 0.3% (P<0.1) and 0.4% (P<0.05) respectively. Furthermore, an increase in the age (P<0.05) and level of education of the household head by one year (P<0.05), wetland cultivation (P<0.01), and commercialisation of wetland resources (P<0.05) reduced diet diversity by 1.5%, 0.68%, 1.78% and 1.1% respectively. On the other hand, adjacency to L. Nakivale wetland system increased a households probability of being totally food insecure by 28% (P<0.001). Meanwhile, membership to a community-based group (P<0.01) and an increase in land ownership by 1 acre (P<0.1) decreased the households probability of being totally food insecure by 14% and 4.4% respectively. Increase in distance to market by 1 km (P<0.01), off-farm occupation (P<0.05) and commercialisation of wetland resources (P<0.05) also decreased the households probability of being totally food insecure by 4.2%, 16% and 15% respectively. Although the integration of traditional use of wetlands in the wetland policy is good for addressing food insecurity, wetland degradation and the wealth creation approach to wetland management expose households to food insecurity. Commercialisation of wetland resources, social capital and off-farm employment are negative determinants of household food insecurity. Exclusion rights and the practices of harvesting herbal medicine and water were associated with household food insecurity. Cultivation of wetlands and commercialisation of wetland resources reduced household diet diversity. There is a need to protect the traditional rights to wetlands, domesticate commercially viable wetland resources and develop clean water sources for domestic use in areas adjacent to wetlands. Further research on the health of wetlands and the potential of domesticating commercially viable wetland resources will contribute to diversification of livelihoods and reduction of food insecurity in areas adjacent to wetlands.