National Report of Uganda for COP7


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National Report prepared for the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

 Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in general, and of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 in particular, during the period since the National Report was prepared in 1995 for Ramsar COP6

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Contracting Party Uganda
Designated Ramsar Administrative Authority  
Full name of the institution Directorate of Lands and Environment
Name and title of the head of the institution Dr S.K. Mubbala, Director
Mailing address for the head of the institution P.O.Box 7122 Kampala
Telephone 256 41 341875
Fax 256 41 230891
Name and title (if different) of the designated contact officer for Ramsar Convention matters Paul Mafabi, Programme Manager
Mailing address (if different) for the designated contact officer National Wetlands Programme, P.O.Box 9629, Kampala
Telephone 256 41 254706
Fax 256 41 232347

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 1
To progress towards universal membership of the Convention.

1.1 Describe any actions your government has taken (such as hosting regional or subregional meetings/consultations, working cooperatively with neighbouring countries on transfrontier wetland sites) to encourage others to join the Convention.

The Government of Uganda hosted the second Pan African Regional meeting. In addition, Uganda is collaborating with Kenya and Tanzania for the implementation of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Programme which aims at the conservation and sustainable utilisation of the shared wetlands of Lake Victoria.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 2
To achieve the wise use of wetlands by implementing and further developing the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines.

2.1 Has a National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan been developed, or is one being developed or planned for the near future? If so:

Uganda adopted a national policy for the conservation of wetland resources in 1994. The policy is a result of wide consultations involving a wide range of stakeholders at national, district and local levels.

a. What are/will be its main features?

The main features of the policy are:

  • To establish the principles by which wetlands can be optimally used and their productivity maintained in the future
  • End exploitative practices in wetlands
  • Maintain biological diversity in natural or semi-natural wetlands
  • Maintain functions and values of wetlands
  • Promote integration of wetlands into decision making processes and sectoral planning

b. Was it, or is it, intended that the Policy/Strategy/Action Plan be adopted by the whole of Government, the Minister responsible for Ramsar matters or through some other process. Please describe.

c. How does it relate/will it relate to other national environmental/ conservation planning initiatives (e.g., National Environmental Action Plans, National Biodiversity Action Plans, National Conservation Strategies)?

The National Wetlands Policy complements the goals and objectives of the National Environment Action Plan.

2.2 If a policy is in place, how much progress has been made in its implementation, and what are the major difficulties being encountered in doing so?

An implementation strategy was adopted in 1995 and the policy is now being implemented at the national, district and community levels. The main difficulties encountered during implementation include:

  • A legacy of previous policies which encouraged drainage of wetlands;
  • Lack of alternatives to unsustainable use of wetlands. This is exacerbated by the collapse of the cash crops such as cotton leading local communities to turn to rice growing as a cash crop;
  • Development pressures and the resultant conflict with wetland conservation especially in the urban areas

2.3 If a Policy/Strategy/Action Plan is in place, is the responsibility for implementing it with :

a. a single Government Ministry,
b. a committee drawn from several Ministries, or
c. a cross-sectoral committee?

The responsibility for implementing the policy is vested in the Ministry responsible for wetlands (previously Ministry of Natural Resources and now Water, Lands and Environment). The ministry is assisted by an inter-ministerial committee comprising of 17 departments and institutions with responsibilities for wetland management

2.4 For countries with Federal systems of Government, are there Wetland Policies/Strategies/Plans in place, being developed or planned for the provincial/state or regional levels of Government? Yes/No   If yes, please give details.

Although Uganda is not a federal state, there is a decentralized system in which power is devolved to the district and local councils. Under this system, it is planned to develop district and local wetland policies, which are in conformity to the national wetland policy.

2.5 Has a review of legislation and practices which impact on wetlands been carried out, and if so, has this resulted in any changes which assist with implementation of the Ramsar Convention? Please describe these.

A review of legislation and practices, which impact on wetlands, is underway. No results yet which assist with the implementation of the Ramsar Convention. However, several issues have been identified so far such as the lack of clear institutional arrangements for wetland management.

2.6 Describe the efforts made in your country to have wetlands considered in integrated land/water and coastal zone planning and management processes at the following levels:

a. national
b. provincial
c. local

The National Wetlands Programme has organised workshops for the districts and local councils to discuss the integration of wetlands into national, district and local development plans. Two districts have already incorporated wetland issues into their development plans.

2.7 Have there been any publications produced, or practices documented, which could assist other countries to promote and improve the application of the Ramsar Wise Use of Wetlands Guidelines? Yes/No   If Yes, please provide details and copies.

Several publications have been made to publicise the policy and the wise use concept. These are:

  • A documentary film on Uganda wetlands
  • A bi-annual WetNews newsletters
  • Guidelines are under preparation

2.8 Noting COP6 Recommendation 6.14 relating to toxic chemicals and pollution, please advise of the actions taken since then "to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands" (Operative paragraph 9).

The Kasese Cobalt Company has started processing the cobalt stockpile, which has been leading into Lake George Ramsar Site. In addition, under the National Environmental Statute (1995), EIA is now a requirement for any development involving toxic chemicals and pollution.

2.9 Describe what steps have been taken to incorporate wetland economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment actions.

Wetland valuation is carried out as part of the inventory process. However with assistance from IUCN, Uganda is to undertake a detailed wetland valuation exercise.

2.10 Is Environmental Impact Assessment for actions potentially impacting on wetlands required under legislation in your country? Yes/No

Yes, under clause 20 and 21 of the National Environment Statute (1995) it is a requirement for EIA to be undertaken for any development which may have or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment.

2.11 Is wetland restoration and rehabilitation considered a priority in your country? Yes/No.  If Yes, describe the actions that have been taken to identify wetlands in need of these actions and to mobilise resources for restoration or rehabilitation.

The Wetlands policy stipulates that Government may require that some wetlands, which have already been drained, should be allowed to regenerate. For this purpose Government aims at restoring the soil hydration so as to re-establish the wetlands vegetation as far as is ecologically possible.

An inventory of wetlands is underway to identify priority wetlands for conservation and restoration.

2.12 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage active and informed participation of local communities, including indigenous people, and in particular women, in the conservation and wise use of wetlands." (refer to Actions 2.7.1-4 in the Strategic Plan).

Several actions have been undertaken to encourage active and informed participation of local communities in the conservation and wise use of wetland resources. These include:

  • Project sites at local level to support community initiatives that demonstrate sustainable use of wetlands
  • A Gender strategy is being developed to review the roles played by women and youth in the conservation of wetlands

2.13 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands" (refer to Actions 2.8.1-4 in the Strategic Plan). Has this included a review of fiscal measures (taxation arrangements, etc.) to identify and remove disincentives and introduce incentives for wetlands conservation and wise use? Yes/No   If yes, please provide details.

The private sector has been involved in brainstorming session on the conservation of wetlands in Kampala. In addition, the Uganda Investment Authority requires the developers to submit an EIA to the National Environment Management Authority for approval as a condition for granting a license.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 3
To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels

3.1 Is there a government-run national programme for Education and Public Awareness in your country which focuses on, or includes, wetlands? Yes/No?   If yes, what are the priority actions under this programme and who are the target groups? (Refer also to question 9.4)

3.2 Describe the steps taken to have wetlands issues and Ramsar’s Wise Use principles included as part of the curricula of educational institutions. Has this been at all levels of education (primary, secondary, tertiary and adult)? Please give details.

The National Environment Management Authority in collaboration with the National Curriculum Development Centre has developed an environment education curriculum which incorporates wetlands. Priority Actions include:

  • Policy awareness which targets the policy makers and district and local councils and NGOs;
  • Radio broadcasts which target the general public
  • Schools programme which targets the upper primary schools

Wetland issues are now included in the school curricular as part of the environmental education programme. The National Wetlands Programme is developing support materials such as teacher’s guides and booklets on wetlands.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 4
To reinforce the capacity of institutions in each Contracting Party to achieve conservation and wise use of wetlands.

4.1 Describe the mechanisms in place, or being introduced, to increase cooperation between the various institutions responsible for actions which can have an impact on the conservation and wise use of wetlands. If one of the mechanisms is a National Ramsar/Wetlands Committee, please describe its composition, functions and modus operandi.

Uganda has an Inter-Ministerial Committee which also serves as the National Ramsar Committee. The committee is composed of 17 ministries and departments with responsibilities for wetland management. The committee is chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for environmental affairs (previously Natural Resources and now Water, Lands and Environment). The secretariat is provided by the National Wetlands Programme. The main functions of the committee are to:

  • Promote the implementation of the National Wetlands Policy and compliance by departments, local authorities and the general public;
  • Advise the National Wetland Programme on its objectives, priorities, planned outputs and activities;
  • Ensure integration of wetland issues into sectoral planning and harmonise the wetlands policy with other sectoral policies on natural resources and the environment.

The IMC is expected to meet once every three months or more frequently as the need arises.

The decisions made the IMC are submitted to the government through the Permanent Secretary who is also the chairman.

4.2 Of the following, indicate which have been undertaken:

The following is an overview of the actions taken to reinforce the capacity of institutions to achieve conservation and wise use:

a. a review to identify the training needs of institutions and individuals concerned with the conservation and wise use of wetlands Yes/No? If yes, please indicate the major findings of the review.

A Training Needs Assessment for the National Wetlands Programme is underway and is expected to result into a training plan for the Programme.

b. a review to identify training opportunities for these people both within your country and in other countries. Yes/No?

There has been no review to indentify traininig opportunities for people within and outside Uganda, although a review for Uganda is planned.

c. the development of training modules or a training programme specifically for wetland managers. If yes, please give details.

A training module for wetland managers and pracitioners which was developed in 1994 is undergoing review and updating. The module was used to train district techincal officers is wetland assessment and management.

d. people from your country have gained wetland-related training either within or outside the country. Yes/No? If yes, please give details.

Ten techincal officers from line ministries have been provided with training in Environment Impact Assessment involving wetlands as a case study. In addition 1 technical officer from the Ministry of agriculture has attended the international course on wetland management at Lelystad, the Netherlands.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 5
To ensure the conservation of all sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List).

5.1 Of the Ramsar sites in your country, how many have formal management plans:

a. being prepared?
b. fully prepared?
c. being implemented?

Please indicate in the attached table of Ramsar sites which sites these are and what category they fall into.

A management plan is being prepared for Lake George Ramsar site.

5.2 Of the management plans referred to above, which ones have included a monitoring scheme or programme to allow changes in ecological character to be detected? Please indicate this in the attached table of Ramsar sites also.

A monitoring scheme is part of the Management Plan for Lake George.

5.3 Has there been a change in the ecological character (either positive or negative) at any of your Ramsar sites or is this likely to occur in the near future? Yes/No. If Yes, please give details.

There has been a negative change in ecological character due to a cobalt spill which affected parts of the northern end of the Lake George.

5.4 In the case of Montreux Record Ramsar sites where the Management Guidance Procedure has been applied, what is the status of the implementation of the MGP report recommendations? What is the expected time-frame for removing the site from the Montreux Record?

Management guidance procedure for Lake George Ramsar site was planned to take place in 1997 but execution has been delayed due to insecurity in the region. It is hoped that this will be completed by mid-1999

5.5 For those countries referred to in COP6 Recommendations 6.17.1-4, "Ramsar sites in the Territories of Specific Contracting Parties", please provide advice on the actions that have been taken in response to the issues raised at that time.

Not applicable to Uganda

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 6
To designate for the Ramsar List those wetlands which meet the Convention’s criteria, especially wetland types still under-represented in the List and transfrontier wetlands.

6.1 Has a national inventory of wetlands been prepared for your country? Yes/No.

A national inventory of wetlands is underway and by June 1998, wetlands in 17 of the 45 districts have been inventoried. It is expected to complete the inventory by 2001.

If no, are there plans for this to be done? Yes/No.

Where a national inventory exists please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept and what information it contains.

6.2 Does there exist a list or directory of "important" wetlands for your country or region? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept, what criteria for "important" were used, and the types of information it contains.

A list of wetlands of important wetlands (in terms of biodiversity) exists. It is also planned to produce a Wetlands Master Plan with hot spot wetlands which need urgent protection. It is expected to have the masterplan completed by the end of 1999.

6.3 If it is known, please provide an estimate of the area of wetlands in your country at present and any information on rates of loss or conversion to other activities.

Wetlands cover about 13% of total land surface area of Uganda. About 7% of the wetlands have been lost according to the National Biomass Study.

If this information is available, please indicate what definition of "wetland" was used.

Definition of wetland:‘Vegetated area of land that is flooded either permanently or seasonally. The area stays wet long enough for certain plants and animals to grow even when there is no rain.’

6.4 Have any actions been taken in response to the COP6 Resolutions and Recommendations that Contracting Parties should give priority to listing Wetlands of International Importance which:

a. meet the criteria for fish habitat (Resolution VI.2),
b. meet the 1% criterion for waterbird populations using data provided by the International Waterfowl Census (Resolution VI.4),
c. are subterranean karst or cave wetland systems (Resolution VI.5),
d. are peatland ecosystems (Recommendation 6.1)
e. are coral reefs and associated systems (Recommendation 6.7)
f. are under-represented wetland types (which apart from d. and e. above include mangroves and sea grass beds) (Strategic Plan Action 6.2.3)

Yes, consultations have started with the district authority to designate Lake Nabugabo as Uganda’s second Ramsar site. Lake Nabugabo meets several of the criteria for designation including the criterion on fish habitat.

6.5 If your government indicated at COP6 that it would be proceeding to list further specific sites, please advise of the status of this action.

Two sites, namely Lake Opeta is eastern Uganda and Lutembe bay on the shores of Lake Victoria, are under study for possible designation.

6.6 Please advise which of the sites included in the Ramsar List from your country are transfrontier wetlands (Refer also to 7.1).

Not applicable.

6.7 Describe any plans, or actions being taken for further transfrontier sites to be listed (Refer also to 7.1).

Under the GEF cross border biodiversity project Sango Bay which borders with Tanzania is bieng considered as a potential Ramsar Site.

International Cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and collaboration with other Conventions and agencies.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 7
To mobilise international cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in collaboration with other conventions and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.

7.1 Briefly describe any bilateral or multilateral activities that have been taken, are under way, or are planned for the management of transfrontier wetlands or their watersheds/catchments (Refer also to 6.6 and 6.7).

Uganda is collaborating with Tanzania and Kenya for the implementation of the Lake Victoria Environment Project which aims among others, at the conservation of the lake resources. The project is funded by the World Bank and the GEF.

In addition Uganda is collaborating with Kenya and Tanzania for the implementation of the cross-border Biodiversity Project. The project area includes the Sango Bay swamp forests in Uganda and Minziro swamp forests in Tanzania.

7.2 Do you have Ramsar sites that are "twinned" with others, either nationally or internationally? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

At present there are no Ramsar sites twinned with others, although this is desirable.

7.3 Where your country is also a signatory of any of the following Conventions, describe what mechanism(s) exist to assist regular dialogue and cooperative actions between the personnel responsible for their implementation and the Ramsar Administrative Authority:

a. Convention on Biological Diversity
b. Framework Convention on Climate Change
c. Convention to Combat Desertification
d. Convention on Migratory Species
e. World Heritage Convention

The administrative authorities for the Convention on Biological Diversity and Bonn Convention are NEMA and the Wildlife Department respectively. Both of these institutions are members of the Wetlands Inter-ministerial Committee which provides a forum for dialogue and cooperative actions.

7.4 Is your country cooperating as part of any bilateral or multilateral activities directed at the conservation of migratory wetland species? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

Although Uganda signed the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, she has not yet formally ratified the agreement.

7.5 Are there multilateral and/or bilateral donors supporting projects which contribute to implementation of the Ramsar Convention in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

GEF and the World Bank are supporting the implementation of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project.

The UK Department for International Development is finalising a project for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of Lake George resources involving local communities.

7.6 Does your government make an annual budgetary allocation to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands within your country? Yes/No. If yes, is this a specific allocation to a wetlands programme or as part of a larger environment or natural resource management budget?

The Government of Uganda has budgeted for $ 100,000 to support to the National Wetlands Programme during the financial year 1998/99. In addition, the government finances the National Environment Management Authority which coordinates environment issues.

7.7 If your country has a development assistance programme, does it include funds earmarked for wetland conservation and wise use in other countries? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

Not applicable.

7.8 Is there a formal process in place for consultation between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the development assistance programme in your country, where one exists? Yes/No. If yes, what is that process.

Not applicable.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 8
To provide the Convention with the required institutional mechanisms and resources.

8.1 Has your government made voluntary financial contributions, other than the invoiced contributions or to the Small Grants Fund, to further the work of the Convention globally? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

No voluntary contributions to SGF

Preparations of the Pan African Regional meeting

8.2 If your country is in arrears with the payment of its annual contributions to the Ramsar Convention, please indicate the reasons for this situation and the prospects for paying these arrears in the near future.

Uganda has cleared most of the previous arrears and awaiting approval of the national budget to remit the contributions for 1998.

Optional section - Participation of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention

These are optional questions relating to cooperation with and involvement of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention.

At COP6 some 42 NGOs made the "Brisbane NGO pledge of support for the Ramsar Convention". The Standing Committee agreed that for COP7 there should be an effort made to gauge the level and type of cooperation which is occurring between government Administrative Authorities and the national and international NGOs with an interest in wetlands issues.

In this optional section of the National Report, you are asked to describe the nature of the cooperation and relationship with any other international, regional, national and provincial NGOs operating within your country.

9.1 Approximately how many NGOs have wetlands as part of their regular "business" in your country?

Please break this down between international, regional and national/provincial organizations.

Two NGOs (The East African Natural History Society and Wildlife Clubs of Uganda) have wetlands as part of their business. The EANHS has a wetlands working group which carries out waterfowl counts in January and July.

In addition, the National Wetlands Programme held a workshop for 35 national NGOs in June 1998 to raise awareness of wetland issues. Several of these NGOs are considering incorporating wetland issues into their development plans.

9.2 Is there a regular forum or mechanism through which these NGOs express their views on wetland conservation and Ramsar implementation:

a. to each other? Yes/No
b. to the government? Yes/No

There is no specific forum in which NGOs express their views except through workshops and seminars.

9.3 Does your government include one or more NGO representatives on its official delegation to Ramsar COPs? Yes/No

In the past Uganda did not include NGOs as part of the official government delegation but it is expected that this will happen during the 7th COP.

9.4 Do any of the NGOs run programmes aimed at Education and Public Awareness about wetlands in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please give details (Refer also to question 3.1).

The Wildlife Clubs of Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Society run public awareness programmes about wetlands in Uganda. The Wildlife Clubs of Uganda devoted the year 1996 to wetland conservation messages.

9.5 Where they exist, do Ramsar site management advisory committees include NGO representatives? If yes, please give details

A Ramsar site management advisory committee is being planned for Lake George and is expected to include NGO.

9.6 Describe the themes of the Convention (refer to General Objectives 1-8 of the Strategic Plan) where you perceive the national/provincial NGOs to be most active.

National NGOs most active in objectives 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Final comments:

10.1 General comments on implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.

The Ramsar Strategic Plan is an important tool which has provided a more focussed approach for the implementation of the Convention.

10.2 Observations concerning the functioning of, relations with, and services provided by:

a. The Ramsar Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is effectively discharging their roles of carrying out interim activity between the meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

b. The Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel
c. The Ramsar Bureau

The Bureau is now more focussed in the development and implementation of the annual work plans

d. The Ramsar NGO partners

The NGO partners have been very instrumental in the development of a Wetlands Programme in Uganda. BirdLife International and Wetlands International are actively supporting the East African Natural History Society

10.3 Any other general observations and/or recommendations for the future.

The Ramsar Convention is an important intergovernmental treaty which has focussed national attention to the conservation and wise use of wetland resources. The Convention needs to be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Contracting Parties and to demonstrate there is more to gain by joining the Convention. The Convention should strengthen links with other Conventions such the CBD which have clearly defined financing mechanisms. There is also need to refine the concept of wise use by providing more practical guidance especially on issues related to ecological character of wetlands.

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