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Natural Resources Management

Three factors are important to explain the relationship between natural resources and poverty:

a) Land degradation

b) Population-arable land ratio and

c) Climate Change

Land degradation is a major problem facing Uganda, as in much of the sub Saharan African countries. Exacerbated by poverty, fast growing population and inadequate tenure security; land poses a threat to national and household food security and the overall welfare of the rural population in Uganda (Nkonya et al., 2005). The problem of land management is more serious in Uganda, where agriculture remains the main source of livelihood contributing about 40% of the GDP, 85% of export earnings and 80% of employment and provides most of the raw materials to the mainly agro-industry sector. 

Studies of land degradation in Uganda are limited, but available estimates indicate that the rate of soil fertility depletion in Uganda is among the highest in the SSA with an estimated average annual rate of total nutrient depletion of 70kg of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, per hectare in the 1980’s. 

Population-arable land area:  It is estimated that the population increased at an average of 3.2 per cent to reach 30.7 million in 2009 and is projected to increase to 37.9 million in 2015. This trend suggests that the population could double to nearly 61 million in about 22 years. More than half of the populations (51 per cent) are females. In general, the population is increasingly becoming younger with the proportion of children (under 18 years) having increased from 51 per cent in 1969 to 56 per cent in 2002. More than half of these are below the age of 14 years.  

Owing to high population increase against fixed land, the population density of the country has increased overtime from 64 persons/km2 in 1980 to 85 persons/ km2 in 1991,  to 123 persons/ km2 in 2002. This has also increased the dependency ratio to 110 per cent in 2002 and was projected to increase to 115 per cent in 2009. The current situation concerning land ownership ratio in the rural setting, suggests that 35%-50% of the rural youth, who are married and have begun to run their own independent lives are virtually landless. Yet the social and economic development in the rural areas is not capable of providing them with other livelihood options.  Consequently, the pressure over land resources are very high, and is causing irreversible damage; causing more poverty and continued food insecurity.

It is noteworthy that the government of Uganda has introduced policies and strategies on land use, soil and conservation, land degradation; and also initiated participatory planning, managing and benefit- sharing from forest resources. What is more, the international community has thrown its weight behind the governments efforts in this regard, fully aware that environmental problems are not local problems to be left to the discretions of local governments but to be tackled by all in light of the fact that they have a global nature.

Accordingly, international donor agencies have been availing resources through different ways to support local efforts. The issue of natural resource management is certainly one of the areas where the NGOs, government agencies and international communities are sharing views and concerns.