Drought and Flood Risk, Impacts and Adaptation Options for Resilience in Rural Communities of Uganda

Drought and Flood Risk, Impacts and Adaptation Options for Resilience in Rural Communities of Uganda

Shuaib Lwasa (Department of Geography, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2018010103
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Climate change is affecting many rural resource-poor communities unequivocally with differing magnitude, severity and frequency of drought risk from one locale to another especially in Africa. At micro spatial scale of households and villages, climate change risk trends and hazards vary spatially, coupling with social, economic and locational conditions. This paper analyzes vulnerability and impacts of climate change from droughts and floods in a rural community with varied geographies across social, economic and environmental profiles in Uganda. In recent years, studies have shown that droughts have increased form 1 in 10 years to 1 in 6 years and the worst affected area is the semi-arid zone of Uganda that spans from south western through central parts to the north-eastern parts of the country. In the study area of Pallisa, located in the eastern central part of the semi-arid zone, droughts and floods impacts on livelihoods, people and assets are eroding the asset-base for the households. Yet the household assets are important in adaptation and resilience of the community. As a natural resource dependent community like many others, evidence strongly suggests increasing climate risks of droughts and floods the impacts of which are worsening the already grim conditions of community well-being. This paper analyses the climate risks utilizing the vulnerability assessment framework. A scenario-based analysis that integrates community evaluation of vulnerability with climate data to analyze current and future vulnerabilities in a spatial context is conducted to examine spatial differences in vulnerability. Various multi-scale adaptation strategies are analyzed in respect to the climate change risks to assess the resilient capacity of the community to current and future vulnerabilities.
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Drought has increasingly posed threats to livelihoods due to increasing frequency, intensity and severity in the semi-arid areas of Uganda (Tumwesigye & Musiitwa, 2004). Drought risk has forced communities to adjust agricultural patterns and livelihoods. The increasing impacts, varied magnitudes and uncertainties about risk have attracted attention from researchers but also development practitioners. Drought in the semi-arid zone of Uganda have been observed as increased from 1 in 10 years to 1 in 6 years period (Awange, Aluoch, Ogallo, Omulo, & Omondi, 2007). As a result, the frequent droughts create little room for bouncing back by communities as they tend to be followed by floods due to excessive rainfall. There is increased investment into community-based adaptation due to anticipated outcomes of investing in specific areas and sectors that are affected by disasters. In Uganda, there is reported community-based adaptation as a direct response to impacts on livelihood of drought risks, which occasionally is followed by floods (Wakhungu, 2005). The investment in community-based adaptation is a means for validation of existing knowledge in understanding of how best to respond to the impacts of climate change (Aalsta, Cannon, & Burton, 2008). Like many other communities that are dependent on natural resource, the adaptation capacity is challenged when the natural resources that form the basis of livelihoods dwindle, especially in areas where fewer opportunities for diversifying livelihood systems exist (Below, Schmid, & Sieber, 2015). In the Ugandan semi-arid zone that stretches from southern to northeastern parts of the country, exposure to climatic risks combines with high levels of poverty to exacerbate vulnerabilities (MoFPED, 2014). Pallisa district is one of the poorest and highly vulnerable to drought risk. Studies show that this area has experienced high frequency of droughts in the last 20 years (Hepworth & Goulden, 2008; McSweeney, Lizcano, New, & Lu, 2010) . The study area is also experiencing a high temporal variation in water and pastures coupled with livestock overgrazing. This paper analyses the observed climate change data in conjunction with community perception of climate change to assesses vulnerability of the community to the multiple climate change stressors of droughts, extended dry-spells, and occasional floods. The major objectives of this paper include; a) to assess the vulnerability of the community in one of the Sub Counties of Pallisa to the impacts of climate change, and b) to identify adaptation mechanisms required for enhanced community resilience to the impacts of climate change. The paper utilizes a scenario-based vulnerability assessment framework to analyzes the current and future vulnerabilities to understand requirements for resilience building. The paper examines some of the learned practices of adaptation that community members have implemented through participatory action and learning.

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