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Managing landscapes for Climate-Smart Agriculture systems


Landscape-level integrated watershed management for climate-smart development in the Karamoja region, Uganda

The Ugandan government strategy on catchment-based integrated water resources management has guided the FAO strategy on strengthening district-level capacities in adaptation planning and response, which applies an integrated land management approach. The Ugandan government undertook a water resources management study from 2003 to 2005 to establish an effective framework for integrated and sustainable water resources management. The study led to the preparation of a reform strategy and paradigm shift in water resources management from centralized government control to catchment management systems. In July 2011, The Directorate of Water Resources Management within the Ministry of Water and Environment, decentralized a number of the water resources management functions, which had been performed by the Directorate, to four Water Management Zones. This decision was taken to shift the responses to water management needs closer to where action is needed and mobilize local communities and other stakeholders to achieve catchment-based integrated water resources management. 

The catchment management provides an opportunity for multiple sectors and stakeholders to participate in the management and the development of land and water resources in the catchment, which ensures sustainability and supports poverty alleviation efforts in the face of changing climate.  

In 2014, in support of the new government approach, FAO, with funding from UK Department for International Development (DFID) and in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), launched a project to design, develop and implement micro-landscape management plans for Lokok and Lokere subcatchments in the Karamoja region.

The participatory action research methodology, which guided the planning and implementation process, involved carrying out a landscape assessment, and undertaking capacity-building and field demonstration activities that promote 'learning by doing'. The process used involved the following four key stages:

  1. Learning from current landscape management issues and experiences: Micro-catchment assessments of Okok and Okere landscapes were conducted using both scientific and participatory approaches, covering climate risks, hydrology, soil erosion and vegetation loss, as a basis to identify and prioritize interventions and design micro-catchments plans and target hotspots.
  2. Strengthening local capacities for integrated landscape management: Through the application of a resilience framework, the project conducted climate change adaptive capacity needs assessment for stakeholders within the landscapes and a capacity-building plan was developed to train selected coommunity members, staff from the districts and civil society partners.
  3. Linking learning to field action: Based on the micro-catchment plans, communities were supported to implement climate-smart agriculture priority interventions, which included live fencing of homesteads; the establishment of woodlots and orchards; river bank demarcation and rehabilitation; micro-catchment rehabilitation; soil and water conservation; rainwater harvesting; and income generating activities. Revolving and  community environment conservation funds have been used to strengthen local governance and build social cohesion and economic resilience to catalyze the implementation of landscape management practices for enhancing ecological resilience.
  4. Evidence-based documentation of lessons to facilitate leaning and the replication of best practices: The project supported a comprehensive review of the activities and lessons from current and past experiences in Karamoja, which were recorded in a lessons learnt and good practices booklet. The project also published two technical briefing notes.