Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1255–1273 | Cite as

Fishers’ perceptions of climate change, impacts on their livelihoods and adaptation strategies in environmental change hotspots: a case of Lake Wamala, Uganda

  • Laban Musinguzi
  • Jackson Efitre
  • Konstantine Odongkara
  • Richard Ogutu-Ohwayo
  • Fredrick Muyodi
  • Vianny Natugonza
  • Mark Olokotum
  • Sharon Namboowa
  • Shamim Naigaga
Case Study


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.


Adaptation 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laban Musinguzi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jackson Efitre
    • 1
  • Konstantine Odongkara
    • 2
  • Richard Ogutu-Ohwayo
    • 2
  • Fredrick Muyodi
    • 1
  • Vianny Natugonza
    • 2
  • Mark Olokotum
    • 1
  • Sharon Namboowa
    • 1
  • Shamim Naigaga
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, College of Natural SciencesMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  2. 2.National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI)JinjaUganda

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