Women's Tribunal:  Gender and Climate Justice:  UGANDA

Date:  October 17, 2011
Location:  Kampala
Organizers:  African Women's Economic & Political Network (AWEPON)
Contact:  Rosemary Lukholo, Executive Director, AWEPON,

Tribunal Report: Uganda

African women’s Economic policy Network (AWEPON) spearheaded the organization and implementation of the Climate change Justice Tribunal in Uganda. The tribunal was attended by representatives of NGOs, academia, media, youth and women groups from three districts of Rakai, Bududa and Kampala.

The major objective of the tribunal was identified and this was;
·      To enhance awareness about the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of the vulnerable especially the women in Uganda,
·      To generate massages to be sent to policy makers at national, regional and international levels that will help the affected communities to mitigate and adapt to the effect of climate change.
Major activities included;
·      Capturing women’s voices and taking video footages  on the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of women in three districts of Bududa, Kampala and Rakai.
·      Undertaking a climate Tribunal in Kampala
·      Advocating with the relevant government authorities
·      Reporting back to GCAP, whereby the final report will be submitted in Durban for the Cop 17 activities.

Jurists were selected and these had experience in issues of climate change in Uganda. Their role was to reflect and provide insights during the tribunal after the presentations as well as issue verdict. Communication materials in form of banners and T shirts were developed to be used during the field visits and the following activities including the tribunal day.

A consultant was hired who made a study and drafted a country climate change analysis paper which was presented during the Tribunal.
The field activities were proceeded by a media press conference whereby the activity was officially launched.

AWEPON selected three districts which were most affected by climate change in three areas of draught, floods and land slides, and these districts were Rakai, Kampala and Bududa respectively.

AWEPON teams proceeded to the three districts to take video footage and record women’s voices from the districts. This was achieved through field visits and group for a discussions. Women witnesses were selected during the discussions, from the three districts who were to present experiences and information relating to their specific experiences on climate change in their areas.
All activities were documented in form of reports, video coverage footages, and photographs.

The Tribunal
AWEPON held the tribunal on 31st October 2011 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. During the Tribunal, the country analysis paper was presented, and the women key witnesses gave their testimonies.

Outcomes and recommendations of the Tribunal
Messages to the International community:
1.     Increased funding to:
a.    undertake gender based research to assess actual impact on the vulnerable especially the women in developing countries including Uganda,
b.    support  developing countries to implement activities that will help vulnerable groups especially the women to adapt and mitigate impact of climate change in developing countries
2.     Ensure all developed countries especially those who contribute to gaseous emissions ratify the climate change international treaties and policies, and implement them,
3.     Ensure effective Monitoring to assess how the countries which signed the ratifications implement them and as required.
Messages to the Regional Policy-makers (East African Community) and National Policy-makers:
       To mainstream climate change adaptation  and mitigation actions in development planning for all ministries,
       To ensure allocation and commitment of enough resources to support the actions above in all sectoral budgets,
       To ensure implementation of these actions at community, local, and national level,
       To promote good governance as a requirement for the success of these interventions.
       To integrate the gender approach to mitigation and adaptation  to climate change in the design, planning and implementation of  policies, programs and projects at all levels that will lead to greater equitable management of resources, and environmental protection.
       In collaboration with civil society and NGOs, to enhance awareness/knowledge and information about climate change and associated impacts among the community especially among the vulnerable groups who also include the women.
       In collaboration with Civil society to hharmonise national coordination of climate change adaptation initiatives including Intensifying on  rain water harvesting technologies,

Meeting with the Ministers (Policy Makers)
A report of the tribunal recommendations was prepared and presented to Ministers and their representatives on 10th November 2011. Eight key Ministries were targeted for the meeting namely; water and environment, Health, Agriculture, Energy, Finance, Trade and Industry, the Planning Authority, ministry of Gender, lab our and Social development and the Ministry for Disaster preparedness.

Climate Change has increasingly taken centre stage as a global burden that has in one way or the other contributed to most of the global crises today. It is now widely recognized by regional and International bodies such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other humanitarian International Non Governmental Organizations (INGOs); and that the solution to this growing global ordeal lies in a concerted effort by all stakeholders, countries around the world and individuals to reduce its causes as well as mitigate its impact.

The immediate effect of Climate Change is on agricultural production and food security – the very foundation of livelihood of mankind. Climate change is most felt at grassroots (family) level by mostly women who are considered to be the custodians of food security. Despite this fact, women have little knowledge on how to adapt to it or mitigate its impact on their lives. They even lack resources and means to effectively participate in the climate discourse at local, national and international levels where the climate policies that affect their well-being are made. Since women make up majority of those engaged in Agriculture across Africa, the African Women’s Economic Policy Network (AWEPON) has over the years, been at the forefront to actively engage in enhancing women’s contribution to food security in ways that increase their income as well as preserve the environment.

Uganda is among the most affected countries by climate change in Africa. In this country, there are reports of extreme weather conditions like erratic rainfall patterns leading to flooding and its predisposing factors like floods, thunderstorms and thunder strikes, crop damage, disease outbreaks, and destruction of houses etc, followed by long dry spells leading to shrinking rivers, drying up of wetlands in some areas across the country and crop failure leading to extreme hunger and famine.

The sectors potentially impacted by climate change include agriculture, forests, water resources, coastal resources, human health, as well as energy, industry and transport. In the area of health, Malaria which is responsible for the most deaths in Uganda is already being observed in places such as Kabale district where its prevalence has traditionally been very low.

Notably all afore mentioned results of climate change and more, have a very negative implication on the economic and social livelihoods of especially the vulnerable in society, majority of whom are the women.

Although a lot of general awareness has been undertaken in about the possible dangers and effects of climate change, a lot still needs to be done.

Potential solutions
Some of the potential and practical solutions that have been suggested for Uganda include concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the community. These include;
·       Emphasis on planting of indigenous trees within the general awareness activities for the protection of natural forest resources.
·       Involvement of more local people and especially the women who are the most affected to make them appreciate the importance of forests by giving them the responsibility to ensure that there is no encroachment into the forests,
·       Involvement of local people during forest patrols,
·       Helping local people to mobilize themselves to fight forest fires;  
·     Reward local people for example by giving them timber which has been confiscated during patrols to make them more interested in forest protection.

AWEPON Tribunal on Gender & Climate Change - 2009
In November 2009, AWEPON organized a one day climate tribunal at Grand Imperial hotel in Kampala – Uganda. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss and seek answers to three major questions;
  • What policies should government put in place to help in climate adaptation and mitigation?
  • How can we help mitigate the impact of climate change on the vulnerable especially the women?
  • What should be the government position at Copenhagen and beyond?
The hearing was attended by over 70 participants from all walks of life including civil society and Government bodies. Strong testimonies were given by affected women and other witnesses on the impacts already being felt all over the country from pastoral communities in arid areas to slum dwellers in Kampala city. The unfolding climate chaos was shown in the sad irony that while water is simply drying up in some parts of Uganda, other parts of the country are suffering severe floods.

Testimonies highlighted the following concerns;
  1. Impact of Floods on Women in areas of  Farming, Food Security, Gender, Water and Environment;
North Eastern Uganda
It was noted that in 2007 and 2009, most parts of North Eastern Uganda especially Teso and Gisu  - Bududa regions were flooded for the first time.  Human shelter was washed away along with the crops that would have fed the families for the year.  Houses were reconstructed, but hundreds of thousands of people were affected by famine due to the destruction of the crops. Participants testified that Women were more affected since they depend on agriculture for income and family livelihoods. They are responsible for feeding the children and provide other household basic needs. Anything that obstructs agriculture production, negatively affects women’s socio-economic well-being.

Rakai and Bushenyi
It was noted that in the districts of Rakai and Bushenyi, many of small scale farmers face unpredictable seasonal changes and recommended as follow;  
  • Government to increase investment in agriculture sector to support small domestic agriculture in terms of seeds supply, small-scale irrigation, and food reserves at the community, district and national levels to mitigate climate change catastrophes.
  • National Adaptation Programmes (NAPAs) process to enhance research and capacity building needs for women. Efforts to be made to enhance resilience to related risks through education, training, sharing of information on best practices, introduction of relevant technologies and management practices, and through strengthening of local institutional capacity through bottom up approaches.
Message to Copenhagen Negotiators
  • Developed countries to enhance financing for climate change independent of existing aid commitments, to help vulnerable people in poor countries adapt to changing climates.
  • Industrialised and rich developed countries must cut GHG emissions in rrecognition that the historical cumulative green house gas emissions of developed countries pose a serious threat to women’s social, economic and health related developments and constitutes an additional burden on poverty reduction and frustrates attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The target is to reach a global emission fall of at least 80% by 2015.
  • Developed countries which have lots of adaptation and mitigation technologies and science should transfer the same to poor countries. The developed countries should also facilitate the development of local adaptation technologies to help especially the struggle of the vulnerable indigenous women to effectively adapt to climate change. 
  • Rich developed countries should commit themselves to building the capacities of poor and vulnerable countries for them to recover, adapt and mitigate climate change.
  • Capacities of meteorological and research departments needs to be enhanced in order to give timely and accurate information to the poor farming women communities.
  • The delegates at COP 15 need to commit themselves to negotiating a fair deal that promotes sustainable agriculture and food security in poor and most vulnerable countries.
  • In order to bring about long term change, the climate change deal must consider providing a framework for involving women/citizens. There is need for wide consultation in a broader debate on issues
The 2009 tribunal messages were sent widely and expectations of the impact are high.

Second Tribunal on Gender & Climate Change
AWEPON will be organizing another tribunal hearing in Kampala – Uganda to focus on more ideas for practical and possible solutions to combat the effects of climate change. The messages generated will be published and sent to the relevant authorities nationally, regionally and internationally; and will also input to the conference presentations that will take place in Durban in November 2011.

AWEPON will compile a 30 minutes documentary which will be presented to the participants at the beginning of the workshop. The documentary will depict the impact of climate change in three comparative districts of Bududa, Kampala and Rakai.
-- Testimonies will be presented by 6 expert witnesses (2 per district).
-- 5 jurors will be hired to draft upcoming issues and proposed way forward.

AWEPON will seek more ideas from the participants about how to enhance the existing interventions, and generate new innovative solutions and ideas.
AWEPON will develop and publish advocacy materials which will be used to sensitize and lobby relevant authorities about this issue.
The stakeholders to participate in this tribunal include representatives from the Ministry of East African Affairs, Government Ministers responsible for water, natural resources and environment, Members of Parliament, regional and government planners, the donor community, academia, NGO representatives, private sector and member representatives from Civil society organizations.

For more information, contact:   Rosemary Lukholo, Executive Director, AWEPON  -  or Rosa Lizarde, Global Coordinator, Feminist Task Force at

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