Uganda

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GEOGRAPHY, POPULATION AND WATER RESOURCES

Uganda, a landlocked country on the equator in central Africa, has a total area of 235 880 km 15% of which is occupied by freshwater swamps and lakes. The cultivable area was about 16 759 600 ha in 1991, which is 71 % of the total area. The cultivated area is estimated to be 5 027 880 ha, or 30% of the cultivable area.

The total population is nearly 21 million (1994), of which 11 % is urban. The average population density is 87/km, but varies from 20 in the northeast to more than 300/km in the southeast and southwest. Population growth is 2.6% per year.

TABLE 1
Basic statistics and population

Area of the country 1993 23 588 000 ha
Cultivable land 1991 16 759 600 ha
Cultivated land 1991 5 027 880 ha
Total population 1994 20 621 000 inhab.
Population density 1994 87 inhab./km
Rural population 1993 89 %
Water supply coverage    
Urban population 1991 43 %
Rural population 1991 43 %

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ugandan economy. The sector accounted for 51% of the GDP in 1991 and over 90% of exports, and employs 80% of the employed household population.

Climate and water resources

Rainfall is fairly reliable and varies from 750 mm/year in the northeast to 1 500 mm/year in the high-rainfall areas on the shores of Lake Victoria and around the highlands. Temperatures average about 21C, ranging from 15 to 30C. More than two-thirds of the country is 1 000 to 2 500 m in elevation.

Uganda is the 'water tower' of Central Africa. More than 15% of the area is made up of freshwater swamps and lakes, such as Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world: 69 000 km (of which about 29 000 km is in Uganda) with a maximum depth of 80 m and a capacity of 2 700 km The whole of Uganda lies within the Upper Nile catchment, with numerous rivers flowing into Lakes Edward, Victoria, Kyoga and Albert, and also directly to the Nile. The only outlet from Lake Victoria is the Victoria Nile. The main river into Lake Victoria is the Kagera, which rises in the highlands of Rwanda and Burundi. Although not known with precision, water resources are globally estimated at 66 km/year.

Uganda

TABLE 2
Water balance

Water resources:      
Average precipitation   1 133 mm/yr
    267.3 km/yr
Internal renewable water resources - total   39 km/yr
Internal renewable water resources - per caput 1994 1891 m/yr
Global renewable water resources   66 km/yr
Dependency ratio   40.9 %
Total dam capacity   - km
De-salinated water   - 10 6 m/yr
Water withdrawal:      
- Agricultural 1970 120 10 6 m/yr
- Domestic 1970 64 10 6 m/yr
- Industrial 1970 16 10 6 m/yr
Total   200 10 6 m/yr
per caput 1970 20 m/yr
as a % of internal renewable water resources   0.5 %
Other withdrawal   - 10 6 m/yr
Wastewater:      
Produced   - 10 6 m/yr
Treated   - 10 6 m/yr
Re-used treated wastewater   - 10 6 m/yr

TABLE 3
Irrigation and drainage

Irrigation potential 1991 202 000 ha
Irrigation:      
1. Full or partial control Irrigation: equipped area 1987 5 550 ha
- surface irrigation   - ha
- sprinkler irrigation 1987 80 ha
- micro-irrigation   - ha
% of area irrigated from groundwater     %
% of area irrigated from surface water     %
% of equipped area actually irrigated   - %
2. Spate irrigation area   - ha
3. Equipped wetland and inland valley bottoms 1987 3 570 ha
4. Other cultivated wetland and inland valley bottoms   - ha
5. Flood recession cropping area   - ha
Total water managed area (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5) 1987 9 120 ha
- as a percentage of cultivated area 1987 0.2 %
- increase over last 10 years   - %
- power irrigated area as % of water managed area   - %
Full or partial control schemes: Criteria    
Large schemes > - ha - ha
Medium schemes   - ha
Small schemes < - ha - ha
Total number of households in irrigation      
Irrigated crops:      
Total irrigated grain production   - t
as a % of total grain production   - %
Harvested crops under irrigation   - ha
- rice 1987 - ha
- sugar cane 1987 3 580 ha
- citrus 1987 - ha
- vegetables 1987 - ha
Drainage - Environment:      
Drained area   - ha
as a % of cultivated area   - %
Flood-protected area   - ha
Area salinized by irrigation   - ha

Withdrawal was estimated at 0.2 km in 1970 (Figure 1), of which 0.12 km was reported as being for agriculture, which seems to be an overestimate.

IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT

In general the country is fertile and benefits from adequate rainfall, offering favourable natural conditions for agricultural production, with the exception of the far north and northeast, where the rainfall is confined to one rainy season. In the south, rainfall conditions permit more-or-less-continuous cropping.

In 1987, the Total water managed area was estimated to be only 9 120 ha, or about 0.2% of the cultivated area. The full or partial control equipped area was 5 550 ha and the equipped wetland, 3 570 ha (Figure 2). On a pilot scale (80 ha), sprinkler irrigation was practiced. Rice, sugar cane, citrus fruits and vegetables are currently the main crops grown under irrigation.

According to African Development Fund (ADF) estimates, Uganda has good potential for an expansion of its irrigated agriculture with the amount of land which could potentially be cultivated under irrigation estimated at 202 000 ha. However, using the Victoria-Nile river and its tributaries, or the larger inland lakes, for irrigation purposes would have serious consequences for irrigated farming and the supply of water for countries to the north, especially Sudan and Egypt.

INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

The institutions involved in irrigation and water development are:

FIGURE 1: Water withdrawal (total: 0.2 km in 1970)

FIGURE 2: Distribution of the water managed areas (1987)

TRENDS IN WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

Irrigation developments started in the 1960s, developing settlements using a top-down approach. Those projects are now managed by MAAIF. The schemes are operating with serious difficulties, principally because of budget restrictions.

In October 1991, a FAO project, Assistance in small-scale irrigation, started, with the aim of assisting the Government of Uganda in its strategy of promoting small-scale irrigation by strengthening the national capacity to plan, implement and provide supporting services for irrigated agriculture.

According to that project, rehabilitation of the abovementioned government schemes should first consider the organizational structure which would manage the rehabilitated schemes. Strengthening of farmer organizations and improvement of irrigated agriculture technology is a priority in some schemes; privatization might be a good alternative in other schemes.

MAIN SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Mihajlovich D. 1993. Assistance in small-scale irrigation. Irrigation Engineering Consultancy, project FAO-TCP/UGA/0154.

Statistisches Bundesamt. 1991. Country Profile Uganda.

UNEP. 1988. Strategic Resources Planning in Uganda, Volume IV: Water Resources.

World Bank. 1993. Uganda: Agricultural Sector Memorandum. Three volumes. Report No. 10715-UG.


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