Landslide Risk Management in Uganda: A Multi-level Policy Approach

Conference paper


While landslides constitute a major risk in Uganda, this geomorphological hazard has been largely neglected by national and local authorities in West Uganda. Nowadays, disaster risk management is emerging in Uganda. Monitoring the on-going efforts is therefore crucial in this region. We identify the actors involved in landslide risk management in West Uganda and examine their roles and interactions by investigating both policy and practice. This paper describes a qualitative multi-policy level approach, based on extensive field work and literature on systems analysis and scalar politics. The results show that in theory, landslide risk management in this region consists of a well-structured National Policy (2010), including the establishment of horizontally structured platforms at different administrative levels and a focus on pre-disaster mitigation activities. In practice, however, the implementation is insufficient, as most platforms at local level remain dysfunctional or only meet after a disaster occurred. The dominant arena for landslide risk management remains at national level, despite the promotion of decentralisation, and the focus remains on post-disaster emergency measures, such as providing relief. At local level, bottom-up landslide risk reduction efforts are made that are disconnected from the national policy, scattered and done haphazardly. Thus, discrepancies exist between policy and practice regarding landslide risk management in West Uganda but efforts are moving gradually towards disaster risk reduction.


Mass movements Disaster risk reduction Disaster governance Multi-level governance Global south Scalar politics 



We thank the VLIR UOS South Initiative project (ZEIN2013Z145) and the BELSPO AfReSlide project (BR/121/A2/AfReSlide) for their financial support. Special acknowledgements go to the different actors interviewed in Uganda.


  1. Atukwatse PB, Busiinge C, Tuhaise F, Ahaisibwe F, Tumwine Y, Kaahwa F Moses M (2012) Stuck in the mist: contextual analysis of the conflicts in the Rwenzori Region. Kabarole Research and Resource Centre and Rwenzori Forum for Peace and JusticeGoogle Scholar
  2. Bamutaze Y (2015) Disaster risk governance in ecosystem-dependent livelihoods exposed to multiple natural hazards in Uganda. In: Companion M (ed) Disaster’s impact on livelihood and cultural survival, CRC Press, pp 19–36Google Scholar
  3. Bamuturaki JS, Busiinge C (2004) The effect of tribal relations on socio-cultural, economic and political development of Bundibugyo: The case of Bubandi and Harugali subcounties. Kabarole Research and Resource Centre, Fort Portal, UgandaGoogle Scholar
  4. Banks N, Hulme D, Edwards M (2015) NGOs, states, and donors revisited: still too close for comfort? World Dev 66:707–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CRED (2015) EMDAT disaster database. The international disaster database. Available from: Accessed 15 Dec 2015
  6. District Budget plans (2014/5) District development plans of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districtsGoogle Scholar
  7. Hopkins PE (2007) Thinking critically and creatively about focus groups. Area 39(4):528–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jacobs L, Dewitte O, Poesen J, Sekajugo J, Kervyn M (2016) Landslide characteristics and spatial distribution in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda. J Afr Earth Sci, 1–14Google Scholar
  9. Kervyn M, Jacobs L, Maes J, Bih Che V, de Hontheim A, Dewitte O, Isabirye M, Sekajugo J, Kabaseke C, Poesen J, Vranken L, Mertens K (2015) Landslide resilience in equatorial Africa: moving beyond problem identification! Belgeo 1:1–19Google Scholar
  10. Knapen A, Kitutu MG, Poesen J, Breugelmans W, Deckers J, Muwanga A (2006) Landslides in a densely populated county at the footslopes of Mount Elgon (Uganda): characteristics and causal factors. Geomorphology 73(1–2):149–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Maes J, Kervyn M, de Hontheim A, Dewitte O, Jacobs L, Mertens K, Vanmaercke M, Vranken L, Poesen J (2016a) Landslide risk reduction strategies: a review of practices and challenges for the tropics. Prog Phys GeogrGoogle Scholar
  12. Maes J, Parra C, Poesen J, Kabaseke C, Bwambale B, Mertens K, Jacobs L, Dewitte O, Vranken L, de Hontheim A, Kervyn M (2016b) Disaster governance-beyond-the-state: evidence from landslide risk management in Uganda. Environ Policy GovGoogle Scholar
  13. Manyena SB, Mavhura E, Muzenda C, Mabaso E (2013) Disaster risk reduction legislations: is there a move from events to processes? Glob Environ Change 23(6):1786–1794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Misanya D, Øyhus AO (2015) The role of community-based knowledge and local institutions in managing landslides on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Uganda. Int. J. Emergency Management 11(2):89–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. NVivo qualitative data analysis Software; QSR International Pty Ltd. Version 10, 2012Google Scholar
  16. OPMRU (2010) The national policy for disaster preparedness and management. Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, Kampala, UgandaGoogle Scholar
  17. Parliament of Uganda (2015) List of members of parliament (The 9th Parliament). Parliament of the Republic of UgandaGoogle Scholar
  18. Raschky PA, Schwindt M (2008) Aid, catastrophes and the Samaritan’s Dilemma. Working Papers in Economics and Statistics 2008–06, Working PaperGoogle Scholar
  19. Tumushabe G, Tamale L, Ssemakula E, Muhumuza T (2013) Uganda local government councils scorecard 2012/13 the big service delivery divide. Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, KampalaGoogle Scholar
  20. Twigg J (2007) Characteristics of a disaster-resilient community—a guidance note. DFID Disaster Risk Reduction Interagency Coordination GroupGoogle Scholar
  21. UBOS (2002) Census data 2002. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Kampala, UgandaGoogle Scholar
  22. UBOS (2013) Statistical Abstract 2013. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Kampala, UgandaGoogle Scholar
  23. UNISDR (2007) Words into action: a guide for implementing the Hyogo framework. International Strategy for DRR, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  24. Vaciago G (2013) The safeland compendium of landslide risk mitigation measures. In: Margottini C, Canuti P, and Sassa K (eds) Landslide science and practice, Berlin: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp 683–689Google Scholar
  25. Vision Group (2015) 2011 Election results. Ugandan Election 2016Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth & Environmental SciencesKU LeuvenHeverleeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of GeographyVrije Universiteit BrusselElseneBelgium
  3. 3.Department of GeographyVrije Universiteit BrusselElseneBelgium
  4. 4.School of Agricultural & Environmental SciencesMountains of the Moon UniversityFort PortalUganda
  5. 5.Department of Earth SciencesRoyal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Human and Social SciencesUniversity of MonsMonsBelgium

Personalised recommendations