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Environment and health

The exponentially rising rates of demography, urbanization and associated socio-economic activities are directly contributing to the degradation of the natural resources and the loss of specific ecosystems.

Agriculture is responsible for decline of Uganda’s forest cover (from 24 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2010), together with the lack of enforcement of policies and conflicts. Deforestation, combined with farming practices, population pressure, soil type and overgrazing has led to 62 percent of the country being already severely degraded (MAAIF, 2010; Ruettinger et al, 2011). The Karamoja region in the north, bordering Kenya, in particular, is environmentally fragile. In the more humid areas, pressure on wetlands is also increasing due to expansion of urban and industrial areas, as well as the off-season cultivation in wetlands (Office of the Prime Minister, 2012). As a result, their extent is in decline compared with the 1990s where it covered up to 15.6 percent of the country for only 10.9 percent in 2008 (MWE, 2013b).

Pollution of water resources is concentrated in the Lake Victoria regions. The main source of pollution is untreated wastewater discharge from Kampala, as well as poor farming practices, industrial waste discharge and mining activities, leading to eutrophication. The level of compliance with national wastewater discharge standards is estimated at only 40 percent (NEMA, 2010). In general, the water used for irrigation in the country has no salinity problem, except for some groundwater in semi-arid areas. Waterlogging has been observed before rehabilitation in Mubuku irrigation scheme.

Partial and total sedimentation of dams and valley tanks has occurred in most structures of the 1960s (over 1 000) and it is a common phenomenon in the Karamoja area where most of the soils are sandy-sandy loam in nature. This has substantially curtailed the storage capacity in the area.

Swamps, valley tanks and dams, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, hence the high prevalence of malaria as well as bilharzia among the surrounding communities.

Finally, large areas of land in Uganda have been leased or sold to foreign investors for food production, oil palm plantations or carbon off-sets. This is also the case in every country of the Nile river basin, due to the large water resources available on those lands. Areas under foreign land deals are estimated at to 860 000 ha (GRAIN, 2012; Rulli, 2013) or almost 3.5 percent of the total area of the country. It includes 800 000 ha allocated to Egypt in 2008 in various part of the country.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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