Uganda – Integrating climate change into Uganda Christian University’s learning and research programmes
Uganda has mostly a tropical climate characterised by stable rainfall patterns. However, the effects of climate change have turned the seasons around, with the country experiencing harsher floods and droughts – especially in the east and northeast. Average temperatures in Uganda have increased by 1.3°C since the 1960s. Due to rising temperatures, the permanent ice caps of the Rwenzori Range shrank by 49% between 1987 and 2003, and they are projected to disappear by 2040. All this is having profound implications on the availability of water resources, subsistence activities, and the epidemiological profile of the country.
In fact, an increase in pests and diseases has been reported in the districts, not only in livestock and crops, which has lowered productivity; but also in people, who are suffering from new outbreaks of malaria and cholera.
Aware of this situation, Uganda’s Government has particularly focused on addressing climate change challenges and on reducing vulnerability to protect its economy and the livelihoods of its population, which is 80% dependent on rainfed agriculture. Uganda submitted its Nationally-Determined Contributions to the UNFCCC in 2016, in support of the country’s efforts to comply with the Paris Agreement and realise its National Climate Change Policy (2015) and development goals.
Uganda was one of the first countries to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change into its National Development Plans (2010-2015, 2015-2020 and 2020-2025) as well as in the country’s Vision 2040. Moreover, the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy (2017/18 – 2030/31) was developed in order to operationalise green growth planning into the country’s development plans.
The existence of this policy framework, together with a National Policy for Disaster Preparedness and Management — largely focusing on climate-related disasters — and the willingness of the international community to address climate change, provides an opportunity to address climate change issues.
However, inadequate human capacity and limited research and development programmes on climate change constrain the mitigation of climate change in Uganda. For this reason, the Intra-ACP GCCA+ Climate Support Facility (CSF) contributed to the mainstreaming of climate change into the programmes of Uganda Christian University (UCU), a centre of academic excellence and innovation in Uganda.
The main objectives of this CSF support mission were to:
- enhance technical capacities of national public and private actors to measure and address the negative impacts of climate change;
- integrate climate change studies, in particular ecosystems-based management, into environmental studies; and, ultimately;
- attain a unified concerted effort geared at achieving climate-resilient and low carbon development in Uganda.
Incorporating climate change into educational curricula
In total, six courses were designed, ranging from basic notions of climate change to monitoring and climate modelling techniques, disaster risk reduction and ecosystem-based management. This was complemented by a Training of Trainers workshop, which included two follow-up online coaching sessions for mentors to support the integration of the courses developed in the UCU programmes.
Over the years, there has been a growing interest among stakeholders, and particularly among graduate students, for skills in climate change studies and ecosystems-based management to be integrated into environmental management studies. Through these new training courses, the awareness of the UCU graduates and their respective community members concerning climate change issues will be revamped.
The Plan recognises research, innovation, and training as core functions that will enormously contribute to meeting national and global challenges, as well as to the sustainable development of Uganda and the region.
List of courses developed
- Introduction to climate change: From science to action in Uganda course: Interdisciplinary curriculum that empowers students to integrate the concepts and practical skills they learn within their work environment. This is achieved by providing activities that permit learners to compare the theoretical aspects of the training with their experiences. In addition, the curriculum is student centred and promotes critical thinking on crosscutting issues related to biodiversity and conservation in Uganda.
- Climate modelling: The science of climate change and projections: Participants will acquire the knowledge and capacity to interpret and use climate model outputs. They will learn to create future scenarios, if necessary, for their country or location given climate change data from a Global Climate Model (GCM) or a Regional Climate Model (RCM). This will help in further understanding of how climate change may impact various sectors of importance to Uganda, and therefore aid in decision making.
- Climate risk assessment and monitoring course: The course will enable students to assess risks of climate change through a deeper understanding of the concept, approaches, and tools of climate risk assessment, as a prerequisite for climate change adaptation.
- Ecosytem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation (ECO-DRR/CCA) course: Elective course within existing master’s degrees in a variety of departments: Geography, Natural Resources Management, Integrated Watershed Resources Management, Coastal Zone Management, Agricultural Sciences, Urban Planning, or Environmental Sciences. The main guiding philosophy of this module is “learning by doing”, combining theory with practice, through local examples found in Uganda. Learners will be able to articulate basic concepts of disasters and disaster risk reduction; understand key linkages between disasters, environment and disaster risk reduction; know key international agreements, organizations and initiatives related to disaster risk reduction; employ various tools of disaster risk and vulnerability assessments, as well as specific environmental management tools that can be undertaken to minimize disaster risk; and introduce a systems approach to disaster risk management.
- Ecosystem-based adaptation course: Learners will develop capacities to interpret climate change impacts and how they are interlinked with development; assess the official framework and development interventions through a climate lens and integrate adaptation into the planning process (climate proofing); carry out concrete adaptation actions at national, sector, local, and project levels; apply the concept of ecosystem-based adaptation and relevant definitions and know its advantages and challenges; evaluate the different financing mechanisms of adaptation financing; and, compare and apply the strategies and tools used in Uganda for mainstreaming adaptation.
- Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change course: The course will enhance students’ scientific understanding of climate change and variability, climate vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning. Its objective is to help conduct a vulnerability and impact assessment based on an ecosystem analysis and suggest sectoral adaptation options that are relevant to decision-makers. It will also help assess vulnerability to climate change in the context of other non-climate issues and stresses, such as environmental change and consumption levels, and their integration with other drivers and pressures.
- Design of 6 courses on climate-related subjects to be delivered by Uganda Christian University under the existing undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree programmes.
- Design and delivery of a Training of Trainers workshop.
- 36 teachers participated in the Training of Trainers workshop.
- 10,000 students benefited from new climate-change related contents in undergraduate and postgraduate university programmes.