Dialogue on climate change triggers local mobilisation in Kiboga, Uganda

Initiated by Climate Reality Leader Timothy Mugerwa, the dialogue provided a space for public servants, civil society and teachers to discuss how climate change is affecting their community and what they can do about it.

Like many parts of Uganda, the Kiboga district is affected by the impacts of climate change. This year alone, the district has experienced decline in agricultural harvests, drought and famine.

Yet a majority of residents in Kiboga have never heard of climate change. The few who have a limited understanding of it. The district is disconnected from the country’s only climate change government office located in Kampala. Current interventions usually target farmers, leaving a large portion of the population without basic knowledge of climate change.

This dialogue aimed at bridging the information gap, empowering local people together with public servants and creating contacts with opinion leaders at community level. It proved especially relevant at the wake of the COP22 international climate negotiations taking place in Morocco on November 7-12, 2016. Tackling climate change requires the participation of everybody on all levels – from grassroots to national and international levels. This is consistent with the Climate Reality Project’s goals of creating a critical mass of activists who transform the politics of the climate crisis and creating momentum from the bottom up for a global commitment to reducing carbon emissions and adopting sustainable solutions. This dialogue assisted in involving local stakeholders in the process and fostering actions that speak to their reality and needs.

In attendance were some 50 public servants including the District Environmental Officer, District Production Officer, fisheries, forestry, civil society delegates from the Hunger Project, Kiboga Farmers Association and Kiboga Power as well as high schools geography teachers.

Following a keynote address by Kiboga’s District Production Officer (DPO), Climate Reality Leader Timothy Mugerwa presented on what climate change is, its causes and impacts, what one can do about it – individually and collectively – and existing solutions. The presentation also touched upon the international process to address climate change globally, particularly the Paris agreement and the upcoming COP22. In this perspective, Timothy gave the audience a tour of the ‘Big Five Green Asks’ encapsulating the focus areas and recommendations of Climate Reality Leaders from across Africa as to what is needed to build low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways on the continent.

The session then led to an open discussion. Participants were in agreement that climate change action is more than a need but expressed concern over organisations that talk without acting. They also pointed out the lack of climate change awareness activities within their district, which translates in high numbers of climate illiterates.

The major outcome of the dialogue is to have set a precedent for 2017 activities and encouraged people to actively participate in the implementation of the measures to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

Particularly, the district and participants accepted to work with the African Climate Reality Project in addressing climate change in Kiboga district. A series of recommendations were made with a strong commitment to turning theory into practice:

  • Adopt sustainable agriculture practices that has minimal impact on the environment
  • Develop strategies of mobilising communities to take action
  • Disseminate information to lower levels, for instance via community radio programmes
  • Government to establish strict laws against environment abusers
  • Establish climate change centers / clubs in schools and communities
  • Continue sensitisation and training forums, including through community-based dialogues
  • Address gender issues
  • Re-afforestation and plant more trees.

All school representatives were tasked to start climate change / environmental clubs in their schools. These clubs would provide a framework to initiate a number of concrete actions such as starting or improving school gardens, hosting presentations, holding sensitisation / training activities and planting trees.

In his closing remarks, the vice Chairman of the Local Councile commended the Kiboga district and Timothy Mugerwa for this interactive dialogue session that goes a long way educating community stakeholders on what they can do to build a climate-resilient future.

The meeting received media coverage such as this article published in Chimpreport.  In a UBC broadcast aired on 22 October in both Luganda (local language) and English, Timothy Mugerwa had advertised the event as well as raised awareness on the climate change and the Big Five Green Asks.