Uganda has abundant natural wealth. Its varied wetlands,
including grass swamps, mountain bogs, seasonal floodplains,
and swamp forests, provide services and products
worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year, making
them a vital contributor to the national economy. Ugandans
use wetlands—often called the country’s “granaries
for water”—to sustain their lives and livelihoods. They
rely on them for water, construction material, and fuel,
and use them for farming, fishing, and to graze livestock.
Wetlands supply direct or subsistence employment for 2.7
million people, almost 10 percent of the population. In
many parts of the country, wetland products and services
are the sole source for livelihoods and the main safety net
for the poorest households. Sustainable management of
Uganda’s wetlands is thus not only sound economic policy,
it is also a potent strategy for poverty reduction.
Recognizing this, Uganda’s Government was the first to
create a national wetlands policy in Africa. Over the past
decade, Uganda has also instituted the National Wetlands
Information System, a rich database on the use and health
of Uganda’s wetlands which in its coverage and detail is
unique in Africa.
This publication builds on those initiatives by combining
information from the wetlands database with pioneering
poverty location maps developed by the Uganda Bureau
of Statistics. The new maps and accompanying analyses
will help policy-makers classify wetlands by their main
uses, conditions, and poverty profile and identify areas
with the greatest need of pro-poor wetland management
interventions. The information generated can also be fed
into national poverty reduction strategies and resource
This is an innovative, pragmatic approach to integrating
efforts to reduce poverty while sustaining ecosystems
which has implications for improving policy-making in
Uganda and beyond.
The publication is aimed at high level decision-makers
and has two key purposes:
- To show decision-makers responsible for Uganda’s
wetlands where sustainable wetland management can
have the greatest impacts on reducing poverty, and
how community profiles derived from poverty maps
can facilitate wetland interventions which better serve
the poor. Maps of poverty and wetland indicators can
serve as a bridge between different government sectors
as they consider opportunities for achieving multiple
socioeconomic and environmental objectives.
- To show decision-makers involved in poverty reduction
how maps derived from Uganda’s National Wetlands
Information System can help to identify wetlands with
degradation risks or economic potential, and show how
these areas coincide with different poverty levels. Such
knowledge can improve efforts to integrate wetland
issues into poverty reduction strategies.
Mapping a Better Future: How Spatial Analysis Can Benefit
Wetlands and Reduce Poverty in Uganda uses an innovative
approach to integrate spatial data on poverty and wetlands
use. Drawing on Uganda’s rich baseline of wetland
data and poverty mapping, the report provides a detailed
examination of the links between ecosystem services and
the location of poor communities and presents practical
lessons for policy-makers across government.
- Background: A Brief History of Wetlands Management in
Uganda gives an overview of the Ugandan government’s
efforts to date on wetlands management and its relation to
- Managing Wetlands and Reducing Poverty: Issues and Challenges
highlights the many benefits wetlands provide to
Uganda’s people, and introduces the latest poverty maps.
It then summarizes how wetlands and poverty issues are
addressed in Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan
and Wetlands Sector Strategic Plan.
- Wetland Characteristics and Uses presents maps of permanent
and seasonal wetlands and of wetland area per capita.
It also examines main wetland uses as inventoried in the
National Wetlands Information System.
- Spatial Analysis of Wetland and Poverty Indicators demonstrates
how combining spatial analyses of such indicators
can improve the information and analytical basis for decision-
making. These comparisons incorporate the diversity
of wetland products and the impacts of wetland use.
- Adding Value: Combining Wetland and Poverty Maps with
Economic Analysis illustrates how the depth and benefi ts
of these analyses can be further advanced by augmenting
wetland and poverty maps with fi ndings from economic
valuation studies. A case study of papyrus harvesting’s
potential to reduce poverty is included.
- Moving Forward: Lessons Learned and Recommendations
looks ahead, describes lessons learned, and makes recommendations
for stakeholders involved in poverty reduction
and the sustainable use of wetlands in Uganda and around
Key Findings & Recommendations
The maps and analyses in this publication are primarily illustrative, but do
support the following conclusions:
- Detailed mapping of previously unused data confirms that wetlands provide
multiple benefi ts in every district, and to every citizen of Uganda.
- The diversity of products obtained from wetlands in specific locations
ranges widely, from a handful to up to 24 products; levels of harmful impacts
on wetlands by people also vary greatly across the country.
- Spatial analyses of selected poverty-wetland indicators reveal no clear
pattern at the subcounty level–despite popular belief that the poorest
areas are always the most degraded.
- The overlay analyses of poverty and wetland maps are most useful for
identifying subcounties that share similar poverty and wetland characteristics,
and thus may lend themselves to similar wetland management
approaches and intervention strategies. Economic studies that quantify
the value of wetland products and services can be linked to poverty and
wetland maps to gauge the economic potential of specific wetland uses
in reducing poverty.
Further strengthening Uganda’s supply of data and analytical capacity will
provide major returns for the country’s people and natural resource base by
improving wetland management planning and prioritization efforts, especially
in these two areas:
- Complete data entry and collection for the National Wetlands Information
System, improve data consistency, and update wetland and land
- Strengthen analysis, mapping, and economic valuation efforts within the
Wetlands Management Department.
Improvements in lives, livelihoods, and wetland health could result directly
from this supply of new maps and analyses. Specifically, government
agencies could use the information to act on decision-making opportunities
in these four areas:
- Incorporate poverty information into the existing system for selecting
wetlands for priority management interventions.
- Consider wetland management as part of local poverty reduction efforts,
such as creating new livelihood strategies.
- Promote “win-win” collaboration to support poverty, wetland health, and
other goals between agencies responsible for health, water, sanitation,
agriculture, energy, and environment.
- Make poverty and wetland maps and their analyses a central component of local decision-making at district level.