2020 is a critical year for our planet. Scientifically evident, climate change is real and is threatening our future. Later this year the United Kingdom, in partnership with Italy, takes over the reins as the next Conference of Parties (COP) President and will host the next summit – COP26 – in Glasgow in November 2020. The UK will put climate change and protecting the environment at the heart of the multilateral agenda.
Despite being a historically low carbon emitter, Uganda is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in particular irregular weather leading to floods, landslides and drought with significant impacts on the agricultural and health sectors. In addition, continued destruction of forests and pollution of water systems reduces Uganda’s climate resilience capacity, increasing vulnerability to climate shocks.
The UK Government is working closely with the Government of Uganda in a number of areas to tackle climate change, notably on renewable energy generation, climate resilient infrastructure development and climate smart agribusiness development. However, climate change affects us all, and those most affected in Uganda are low-income communities who rely on natural resources to make a living. Urban areas, which typically feature high concentrations of populations and buildings, are particularly vulnerable to climate change as the increased intensity and frequency of severe weather events for example can severely affect infrastructure, transportation, sanitation and access to health services.
A key focus of the UK’s Year of Climate Action in 2020 will be on adaptation and resilience, helping communities prepare better for climate impacts. To help address some of the challenges faced by local communities in Kampala the British High Commission, in partnership with the British Council, has collaborated with Network for Active Citizens to train local youth from urban areas on climate resilient projects to help protect their local environment.
Through the project, participants explored the challenges in the city and were motivated to start social actions aimed at reducing the effects of climate change on their communities. The projects focused on reusing plastic waste, using waste as a source of energy and urban greening.
Last week an event was held at the British Council offices, where project participants displayed their social action plans and spoke about the impact they have had on their local communities.
Some of the innovations included:
GREEN INSURANCE (KYEBANDO)
Using plastic waste as a financial resource in the Kyebando community. Community members exchange used plastics for cash that is used to access health services with partner clinics.
DAY LIGHT GHETTO PROJECT (KATWE)
Creating a day light instrument using recycled plastic bottles, detergent and silicon for homes that have no access to light during the day.
BRIQUETTE MAKING (KINAWATTAKA)
Creating briquettes using household waste instead of charcoal raw materials thus providing an energy source that is 100% environmentally friendly while improving sanitary conditions in the community. The project is improving access to charcoal alternatives in the community.
URBAN FARMING (KIFUMBIRA)
Creating green spaces in the community of kifumbira through planting crafted fruit trees that take less time to mature and fruits bear.
PLASTC RECYCLING (KISENYI)
Creating garbage bins out of plastic bottles for schools in Kisenyi to reduce the risk of blocking the community drainage system.
In April, Kampala will also host the Africa Climate Week, the theme of which will be resilience to reduce the effects of climate change to our environment. And as the UK prepares to host COP 26 later this year numerous climate related activities will be held here in Uganda and globally to call for a collaborative approach and commitment from the international community and all of society to work together to tackle climate change.