Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 199–213 | Cite as

Towards decision support-based integrated management planning of papyrus wetlands: a case study from Uganda

  • I. ZsuffaEmail author
  • A. A. van Dam
  • R. C. Kaggwa
  • S. Namaalwa
  • M. Mahieu
  • J. Cools
  • R. Johnston
Original Paper


Management and decision making for wetlands need an integrated approach, in which all ecosystem services are identified, their importance are assessed and objectives are formulated about their desired outputs. This approach has been applied successfully in European wetlands with sufficient scientific data. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the application of this approach in the context of a data-poor, multi-use African wetland. The Namatala wetland in Uganda, a wetland under intense pressure from wastewater discharge, conversion to agriculture and vegetation harvesting, was used as a case study. After characterisation of the wetland ecosystem and stakeholder analysis, three management options, subdivided into 13 sub-options, were identified for the wetland. These options were combined into six management solutions. A set of 15 indicators, subdivided into five categories (livelihood; human health; ecology; costs; risk of failure), were identified to assess the performance of these management solutions. Stakeholders’ preferences were taken into consideration by means of weights attached to the indicators, and a best-compromise solution was derived which consisted of a combination of sustainable agriculture in the upper Namatala wetland, papyrus buffer strips along the Namatala river channel, sustainable land use (vegetation harvesting, fishing) in lower Namatala wetland, and papyrus buffer zones at the waste-water discharge points. Despite differences of opinion among stakeholder groups about the relative importance of the indicators, the same compromise solution resulted for all stakeholders. It was concluded that this systematic approach and the stakeholder dialogue about the management options were beneficial to the management process, although the approach would benefit from more and better data about the wetland system and from model-derived predictions.


Decision support Integrated wetland management Namatala wetland Papyrus Sustainable use WETwin project 



This study was part of the EU-FP7 WETwin project ( The assistance of Uganda’s Wetlands Management Department and National Water and Sewerage Corporation in data collection and establishing contacts with stakeholders are gratefully acknowledged. We also thank all stakeholders and Namatala wetland communities for participating in field work and meetings.

Supplementary material

11273_2013_9329_MOESM1_ESM.tif (109 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 108 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Zsuffa
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. A. van Dam
    • 2
  • R. C. Kaggwa
    • 3
  • S. Namaalwa
    • 3
  • M. Mahieu
    • 4
  • J. Cools
    • 5
  • R. Johnston
    • 6
  1. 1.VITUKI Hungary Plc.BudapestHungary
  2. 2.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.National Water and Sewerage CorporationKampalaUganda
  4. 4.Soil en Water DepartmentBrusselsBelgium
  5. 5.Milieu Ltd—Law & Policy ConsultingBrusselsBelgium
  6. 6.International Water Management InstituteBattaramullaSri Lanka

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