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Summary of FCFA’s research on climate change in Uganda

FCFA’s work in Uganda was carried out by HyCRISTAL. HyCRISTAL aimed to develop a new understanding of East African climate change and variability, including working with regional decision-makers to support effective long-term (5 to 40 year) decision-making in the face of a changing climate.

  • HyCRISTAL brought together fundamental climate science with climate-impacts scientists, engineers, hydrologists, hydrogeologists, social scientists and decision-makers to understand the impacts of climate change in Uganda.


  • HyCRISTAL implemented pilot projects in Uganda focusing on urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems, rural livelihoods, water resource management, and lake transport infrastructure.


  • The pilot projects used approaches that support co-production of decision-relevant climate information and enabled on-going dialogue between the providers and users of climate information across various sectors.


  • HyCRISTAL improved the understanding of climate change in East Africa, particularly focusing on changes in rainfall (past and future), quantifying and narrowing uncertainty of projections, and incorporating processes not well represented in global climate models (e.g. moist convection, land-use change, aerosol changes).  A climate science summary for East Africa highlights the key climate science findings of HyCRISTAL.


  • HyCRISTAL also produced Climate Risk Narratives for the East Africa region to communicate possible future climate scenarios for urban and rural areas and initiate discussions with stakeholders.



HyCRISTAL’s rural work in Mukono focuses on developing new pathways for climate research that supports resilience of rural communities vulnerable to climate change in Uganda. This involved using long-term climate predictions and local context information to help policy and decision-makers with informed short-term (1 to 3 years) and long-term (5 to 40 years) decisions on rural climate adaptation.

Using the Household Economic Approach (HEA) and Individual Household Method (IHM), HyCRISTAL aimed to understand livelihood patterns and factors inhibiting adaptive capacities of communities. This was informed by further studies on market systems and value chains, understanding community adaptation potentials, and examining policy implications. The outcomes of these processes support the building of an evidence-based pathway to rural adaptation at the county and national levels.

To provide users with access to an integrated resource for climate, crop, fisheries, hydrology, and livelihoods information, the Integrated Database for African Policymakers (IDAPS) platform is being developed by HyCRISTAL and country partners. At the core of IDAPs is the livelihoods data: this is the point where the resilience of communities, in the face of climate change, can be measured. Livelihoods data in IDAPS is based on the HEA, but it also integrates data from other sources to provide policy and decision-makers with actionable insight into the effects of climate change in Uganda and East Africa on specific rural communities.

It hopes to enable targeted, longer term policies to be drawn up and actioned by government agencies as well as shorter term, seasonal decisions to be made by farmers such as providing evidence for the best planting time of a particular crop. Two IDAPS user forums were hosted in 2017 by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and in 2018 by HyCRISTAL. During these meetings key stakeholders were convened to provide valuable input to ensure IDAPS matches the needs and priorities of its stakeholders. The rural work in Uganda led to the delivery of a briefing paper on rural adaptation being delivered to the Ugandan Parliament, as well as contributions to the Ugandan National Environmental Bill.



Traditionally, farmers in Uganda have relied on government or private extension officers for access to climate change information. This means farmers internalise climate messaging from state or private entities and do not get the opportunity to participate in knowledge production processes. 

Through training local climate change champions in visual storytelling, researchers from HyCRISTAL aimed to use basic filmmaking as a way to shift traditional one-way knowledge exchange within farming communities in Mukono. The visual storytelling aims to address the mismatch between the information provided to farmers and the information needed by farmers. This allows farmers to produce knowledge in their own language, in a manner which reflects their personal experiences. Such formats could also be a useful way to convey information about the underlying impacts of climate change in Uganda.  



The Kampala pilot study was focused on the impacts of climate change in Uganda on the urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems of the city. HyCRISTAL introduced local stakeholders to new climate research emerging from HyCRISTAL, while supporting climate scientists to identify information that is locally relevant. This involved creating simulations of surface water flooding in Kampala under various plausible climate scenarios, then talking with local community groups about their lived experience of flooding to check the local relevance of the flood model. HyCRISTAL used the discussions to help understand the complexity of the issues, and developed an informational video to share their stories.

One of the key aims for HyCRISTAL was to synthesise data of flooding, infrastructure and services into useful tools. Flood modeling efforts have been carried out previously, but little evidence exists of this being translated into useful management tools or design interventions. Combining new flood models with sanitation, infrastructure and socio-economic maps, HyCRISTAL has developed a geospatial health hazard model to examine the health impacts of flooding in the city. 

This model allows various climate scenarios and infrastructure interventions to be explored, showing the impacts they will have on likely flood extents and depths, and health outcomes. The process of developing the model has created opportunities for discussions between a range of stakeholders including advocates for informal communities on the impacts of flooding in East Africa.

The work has highlighted that people have little agency in managing flood risks around their homes, and that WASH systems need to be considered in the context of wider city infrastructure systems – with implications for policy and planning in Kampala. The work has been positively received by local stakeholders such as the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the National Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) and equipped them with an improved understanding of options for risk reduction and clearer dialogue around investment and decision-making.



HyCRISTAL partnered with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) to improve the use of climate information in Integrated Water Resource Management in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB). 

As MWE was in the process of developing catchment management plans for the newly established Water Management Zones, there was a clear opportunity for the HyCRISTAL team to develop strong working relationships with MWE to produce climate information. Improving the understanding of the impacts that climate change in Uganda has on water resources strengthens the case for no-regret interventions in water resource planning and investment through building climate resilience in Uganda to existing and future risks. 

Comparing data from the CP4-Africa model and global climate models (CMIP), HyCRISTAL was able to assess future changes in river flow in the LVB. For example, model results for the Katonga River indicate increased rainfall in the catchment exceeds the increase in evaporation, leading to higher river flows overall. 

This improved understanding of the impacts of climate change, plays a large role in defining socio-economic measures within catchment management plans, particularly in terms of balancing water supply and demand to address any deficits. 

Assuming the model adoption by MWE, the co-production and embedded learning from the impact modelling in the LVB can be used in the future for both long-term strategic planning (assessment of climate change impacts and scenario analysis) and for operational purposes (eg. seasonal forecasting of river flows). A stakeholder workshop is planned for early 2020 to disseminate results from this work.



The HyCRISTAL Transport Pilot Projects (HyTpp) funded through the DFID Corridors for Growth Trust Fund (C4G TF) examined changing lake levels in Lake Victoria under possible climate change in Uganda, as well as the changing lake outflows and the impacts on lake transport infrastructure and management. Climate scenarios were based on changes from an ensemble of climate models (CMIP, CP4-A and P25), and two complementary lake-level modelling approaches. 

HyCRISTAL’s analysis demonstrated how possible future lake levels may be markedly different to levels that have been observed in the recorded past. The results indicate the risks of wetter and drier climate scenarios on the lake which need to be incorporated into decision-making. The results were shared with the World Bank (C4G TF administrators) via a series of skype calls, a Lake Victoria Workshop in 2018 and the HyCRISTAL annual meetings in 2018 and 2019. Results were shared with stakeholders at a workshop in 2019 with representatives from Uganda and the East African Community. 

Engagement with the World Bank uncovered the apprehension of stakeholders in dealing with uncertainty, however successive calls aided in building a common ground in understanding the needs and possibilities. These engagements help shift consultants away from cost-benefit approaches towards incorporating risks based on plausible ranges.

  • HyCRISTAL’s rural livelihoods pilot has:
    • Delivered a briefing paper on rural adaptation to the Ugandan Parliament
    • Strategically targeted six clauses and several sub-clauses that were cross-referenced in order to leverage a coherent influence as a whole to the Ugandan National Environmental Bill.
    • Engaging with the Ministry of Agriculture to support the national work on the implementation of the Koronovia Joint Work Programme on Agriculture and ensure that farmers engaged in sweet potato production are able to benefit from the programme.
    • Farmer Champions participated in the 69th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Kampala, consulted with the National Planning Authority in Uganda, and now have secured a place at the table in Mukono district-level budgetary consultations.
    • Enabled increased funding for targeted agriculture extension services in response to research on climate change impacts on people’s livelihoods in Uganda and proactive stakeholder dialogue approaches.
    • Provided implementation advice to the Ministry of Health, influencing the Ugandan Climate Change Act. 

  • Producing enhanced spatial coverage of rainfall and flow measurements in Kampala together with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) to inform hazard mapping.