With a population of over 200,000 people, according the 2012 Uganda National Census, the Nakaseke district of Uganda is renown for farming and cattle keeping. People grow crops ranging from coffee, maize, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, pineapples, etc. Earlier this year, the corridor, including the neighbouring districts of Nakasongola, was hit by a severe drought that left many cows dead and pastoralists looking for pasture and water.
This prolonged drought has affected farmers such as Ms. Teddy Nakaye who has a farm in the Ngoma sub-county of Nakasekere district.
Ms. Teddy is one of the members of St. Cyprian Ngoma Farmer Field School in Kololo Ward village, central ward Parish, Ngoma Town Council, which has been a beneficiary of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) project funded by the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), a flagship initiative of the European Union (EU).
“As a beneficiary of the farmer field school, my dream isn’t only expanding my farm but also to extend knowledge and train more women about the benefits of improved pasture management practices,” she says.
Ms. Teddy has planted 15 acres of chloris gayana, a species of grass native to Africa, which she is harvesting to make silage. Her farm is expanding and she has procured about 100 heifers, which are female cows that have not yet borne a calf or has only given birth to one calf. She plans to expand her farm with more livestock like cows, goats, etc.
In addition to the Farmer Field School, 15 valley tanks have also been constructed and 5 old ones have been rehabilitated in the cattle corridor of Uganda. The project was implemented in six districts that include; Nakasongola, Luwero, Nakaseke, Kiboga, Mubende and Sembabule.
Take for instance, the Rwenyana Valley Tank in the Rwenyana village of the Sikye parish in Nakasongola’s Wabinyonyi subcounty. This is a permanent tank, constructed by the project, that’s very vital for both domestic consumption and livestock production, especially in dry spells. The tank serves about 15000 animals during dry spells and 200 during the wet seasons. To access this valley tank, farmers come from as far as 7 miles.
The valley tank is a permanent and very important water source for both domestic consumption and livestock production particularly during the dry season when all the other water points have dried out. During the rainy season, because of abundant water source, it serves fewer households.
Kalangwa John, the LC1 chairman and a member of the water user committee says, “We lost up to 30% of our animals during the long dry season. We didn't lose any animals last year. Before the valley tank was rehabilitated, we could go long distances in search of water. As far as 30 km for example to the Mukote subcounty between the Wabinyonyi and Kalungi sub-counties, Kakoge or Lubega sub-counties and Lugogo which is about 10km away.”
Another one of the valley tanks constructed is the solar powered valley tank in Katongole, Mubende district, which serves about 1000 livestock during the dry spell and 300 during the wet season.
Charles Tebajukila, who has a banana plantation in the Mubende district, uses the water to irrigate his plants. The water is pumped from an underground water tank built conveniently at his home under the GCCA+ project. Rainwater is harvested from the roof to the underground water tank conserved for both domestic and livestock use.
“This underground rainfall harvesting tank has helped my family and neighbours a lot. We used to fetch water 7 miles away from a swamp,” He says. It would take him at least 6 hours to fetch the water, because 3 to 4 villages fetched from the same water source. But after the project, he can now access water anytime he needs it, feeds his livestock, irrigates his garden and still provides his neighbours with water.