Perceived benefits of littoral wetlands in Uganda: a focus on the Nabugabo wetlands

Research paper by Sam Bikangaga, Maria Pia Picchi, Silvia Focardi, Claudio Rossi

Indexed on: 08 Aug '07Published on: 08 Aug '07Published in: Wetlands Ecology and Management


Wetlands, commonly called swamps in Uganda, are estimated to cover about 13% of the total land surface area (about 30,000 km2) of the country and represent a considerable ecological, social and economic value. In 1989, the Ugandan government formerly recognised that wetlands need to be conserved and contribute considerably to the National economy and rural livelihood. The present analysis is focused on the Nabugabo wetland ecosystem. Located in Central Uganda, it is an important part of the extensive system of wetlands that surround Lake Victoria. The Nabugabo wetland is a source of important resources that are basic to the local economy, including fishing, water utilization, agriculture, livestock, wetland plants for construction and more recently, tourism. Investment in the area is low and a large percentage of the local community depends on the wetland resources for basic sustenance needs. After achieving Ramsar status, demarcation and conservation activities were initiated by the local and national leaders. However, these conservation efforts have provoked conflicts between the land owners and the policy makers, in particular to the demarcation of areas for conservation In the present analysis, we examine the benefits, perceived by local leaders and community members, of the wetland and its services, as well as views towards its conservation and management. The results show that differences between the community leaders and member exist regarding the perceived benefits of the wetlands. Tourism, while providing some opportunities for local persons is not always viewed positively. Conservation activities are viewed positively but some questions remain as to whether such efforts help or hinder the local population, in particular regarding access to basic resources.