Fishers’ perceptions of climate change, impacts on their livelihoods and adaptation strategies in environmental change hotspots: a case of Lake Wamala, Uganda
Fisheries resources support livelihoods of fishing communities but are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat degradation, pollution, invasive species and climate change. Unlike the other threats, climate change has received limited consideration and reducing its risks requires appropriate adaptation strategies. This study used quantitative and qualitative methods to generate knowledge on fishers’ perceptions of climate change, changes in climate variables and their impacts on livelihoods, adaptation strategies, constraints to adaptation and required interventions to promote adaptation strategies that would enable fishers to build resilience to sustain their livelihoods. We found that fishers were aware of changes in climate conditions manifested by unpredictable seasons, floods and droughts. Fishing remained the main livelihood activity. However, the dominance of fishes had changed from Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) to the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus Burchell). Floods and droughts were associated with damage to gears, boats, landing sites and changes in fish catches and sizes, income from fishing and fish consumption. The fishers adapted by increasing time on fishing grounds and changing target species and fishing gear among other things. Some innovative fishers diversified to high-value crops and livestock. This increased their income beyond what was solely earned from fishing which provided an incentive for some of them to quit fishing. Livelihood diversification was enhanced by use of communications technology, membership of social groups, increasing fishing days and fishing experience. Adaptation was, however, constrained by limited credit, awareness and access to land, which require interventions such as improving access to credit, irrigation facilities, appropriate planting materials and awareness raising. We identified adaptation strategies, which if promoted and their constraints addressed, could increase resilience of fishers to the influence of climate change and sustain their livelihoods.
KeywordsAdaptation Climate change Environmental change Fishers Livelihoods Uganda
We are indebted to the Director of Research and staff of the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), Uganda for logistical support. Field data collection was made possible with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase II, funded by the World Bank through the Government of Uganda. We are grateful to anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. We are thankful to William Critchely and Matt Hamilton who voluntarily proofread the text to improve the English.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
- Aiken, K. A., Bacon, P. R., & Mooyoung, R. (1992). Recovery after Hurricane Gilbert: Implications for disaster preparedness in the fishing industry in Jamaica. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, 41, 261–283.Google Scholar
- Allison, E. H., Andrews, N. L., & Oliver, J. (2007). Enhancing the resilience of inland fisheries and aquaculture systems to climate change. Journal of Semi-Arid Tropical Agricultural Resources, 4, 1–35.Google Scholar
- Balgis, O. E., Nagmeldin, G., Hanafi, A., & Zakieldin, S. (2005). Sustainable livelihood approach for assessing community resilience to climate change: Case studies from Sudan: Assessments of impacts and adaptations to climate change. Report No. N.17.Google Scholar
- Bell, J. D., Ganachaud, A., Gehrke, P. C., Griffiths, S. P., Hobday, A. J., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., et al. (2013). Mixed responses of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 3, 591–599.Google Scholar
- Broad, K., Pfaff, A. S. P., & Glantz, M. H. (1999). Climate information and conflicting goals: El Niño 1997–1998 and the Peruvian fishery. Public philosophy, environment, and social justice. Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, New York.Google Scholar
- Brugere, C., Holvoet, K., & Allison, E. (2008). Livelihood diversification in coastal and inland fishing communities: Misconceptions, evidence and implications for fisheries management. Working paper, SFLP, FAO/DFID, Rome.Google Scholar
- Elasha, B. O., Elhassan, N. G., Ahmed, H., & Zakieldin, S. (2005). Resilient or vulnerable? New methodology shows promise for studying local climate change adaptations. Assessments of impacts and adaptations to climate change (AIACC). Report No. 17, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2005). Asian fisheries today: The production and use of low value/trash fish from marine fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region. Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission. RAP Publication 2005/16.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2010). The state of food insecurity in the world. Addressing food insecurity in protracted areas. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2014). The state of world fisheries and aquaculture. Opportunities and challenges. Rome: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.Google Scholar
- Goulden, M. C. (2006). Livelihood diversification, social capital and resilience to climate variability among natural resource dependent societies in Uganda. PhD Thesis, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2013). Climate change. In S. Joussaume, J. Penner, & Tangang, F. (Eds.) The physical science basis. Working Group I contribution to the IPCC fifth assessment report. Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
- Junk, W. J., Ohly, J. J., Piedade, M. T., & Soares, M. G. M. (2000). Actual use and options for the sustainable management of the Central Amazonian floodplain: Discussion and conclusions. In J. Junk, J. J. Ohly, M. T. F. Piedade, & M. G. M. Soares (Eds.), The central amazon floodplain: Actual use and options for a sustainable management (pp. 533–580). Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.Google Scholar
- Kendall, M. G. (1975). Rank correlation methods (4th ed.). London: Griffin.Google Scholar
- Kristjanson, P., Garlick, C., Ochieng, S., Förch, W., & Thornton, P. K. (2011). Global summary of baseline household survey results. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark.Google Scholar
- Leiserowitz, A. (2007). Global public perception, opinion, and understanding of climate change: Current patterns, trends, and limitations. Thematic paper for: Human development report 2007: Climate change and human development—Rising to the challenge. United Nations Development Program.Google Scholar
- Lowe-McConnell, R. H. (1958). Observations on the biology of Tilapia nilotica in East African waters. Reviews in Zoology and Botany for Africa, 55, 353–373.Google Scholar
- MAAIF. (2012). Operationalization of the non-ATAAS component of the development strategy and investment plan (DSIP), situation analysis report, fish production. Entebbe: MAAIF.Google Scholar
- Maddison, D. (2006). The perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, Discussion Paper No. 10, University of Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
- MRAG. (2011). Fisheries and livelihood. Fisheries Management Science Programme (FMSP), Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), and Department for International Development (DFID). www.mrag.co.uk/Documents/PolicyBrief4_Livelihoods.pdf. Accessed 25 October 2013.
- Natugonza, V. (2015). Changes in catches and biological characteristics of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus Linnaeus) in Lake Wamala Uganda under changing climatic conditions. MSc Thesis, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.Google Scholar
- Natugonza, V., Ogutu-Ohwayo, R., Efitre, J., Muyodi, F., Mbabazi, D., Olokotum, M., Musinguzi, L., Naigaga, S., & Namboowa, S. (2015). The responses of Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758) in Lake Wamala (Uganda) to changing climatic conditions. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management, 20(2), 101–119.Google Scholar
- Nhemachena, C., & Hassan, R. (2007). Micro-level analysis of farmers’ adaptation to climate change in Southern Africa. IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 00714. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- NOAA. (2013). National Climatic Data Center, State of the climate: Global analysis—Annual 2013. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2013/13. Accessed 22 January 2014.
- Okaronon, J. O. (1987). Development and management of the fisheries of small water bodies in Uganda with particular reference to Lake Wamala. Jinja: Uganda Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization.Google Scholar
- Okaronon, J. O. (1993). The fisheries of Lake Wamala. A report on the fisheries resources surveys conducted during 1975/78 and 1988/92, UFFRO occasional Paper No. 17.Google Scholar
- UNEP. (2009). Lake Wamala. Environmental Change Hotspots, Division of Early Warning and Assessment, UNEP. http://na.unep.net/atlas/webatlas.php?id=2197. Accessed 21 August 2014.
- USAID. (2013). Uganda climate change vulnerability assessment report. Washington, DC: USAID.Google Scholar
- Van der Waal, B. C. W. (1998). Survival strategies of sharptooth catfish Clariasgariepinus in desiccating pans in the northern Kruger National Park. Koedoe: African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 41(2), 131–138.Google Scholar
- Westlund, L., Poulain, F., Bage, H., & Van Anrooy, R. (2007). Disaster response and risk management in the fisheries sector. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- Yirga, C. T. (2007). The dynamics of soil degradation and incentives for optimal management in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. Thesis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension, and Rural Development, University of Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar