Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate World Mountain Day today under the global theme Promoting Mountain Products. As part of the activities leading to this event, Uganda has finalised preparations for a national framework for sustainable mountain development. The formulation of this strategy has been driven by the strong need of ensuring mountain ecosystems are protected to sustain their ecological integrity and continue supplying ecosystem goods and services for livelihoods of mountain communities and for national development.
Uganda’s mountainous regions are the most densely populated (besides the urban centres) because of the fertile soils and climatic conditions favourable for agriculture.
Mountain ecosystems house Uganda’s minority groups such as the Ike of Karamoja, Batwa of BwindiEchuya and Mgahinga and Ndorobos of Mt Elgon.
Uganda’s mountains play a critical role in the efforts towards achieving Uganda’s green economy targets. Uganda’s mountain ecosystems host natural capital such as tourism assets, minerals and water that are critical to Uganda’s green economy development. In addition, Uganda’s mountains are a home to nearly half of the key biodiversity habitats or hotspots which are managed as national parks or forest reserves.
In spite of these values, mountain ecosystems are fragile and vulnerable to effects of climate change and other human activities. In the recent past, mountainous areas have had landslides that cause death and destruction of road infrastructure and loss of social and economic assets such as crops, livestock and soils. More so, mountain ecosystems are costly to develop economically due to their topography that present high cost of infrastructure and technology development and application. It is, therefore, not surprising to find that mountain ecosystems are among the areas least served with social services (education, health, clean water, electricity, etc.) or with poor road infrastructure.
The country needs a common vision for sustainable mountain development. There is need to increase knowledge, understand the functions of mountain ecosystems, invest in developing mountain resources, provide social services infrastructure and create employment opportunities for mountain people. We need to know more about resilience of mountain ecosystem and communities to effects of climate change and human activities, among others
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR