Climate change woes as number of Ugandans using firewood and charcoal increases

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By Andrew Kaggwa, NECJOGHA

The number of people using firewood and charcoal in Uganda has increased denting the battle against climate change.

According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2019/2020 released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) week, 73% of Ugandans during the survey done in 2019/20 were using firewood to cook up from 64% who were using firewood in a similar survey done in 2016/17.

The report also says that the number of Ugandans using charcoal in the 2019/20 survey also increased to 57% from 30% in 2016/17. Also, baffling is the number of people in urban areas using firewood to cook where the figure increases from 22% in the 2016/17 survey to 29% in the 2019/20 survey.

Of concern to environmentalists is also the decreasing number of Ugandans using solar power as opposed to grid electricity. The report says the number of Ugandans using solar power in 2019/20 dropped from 44% in 201/17 as opposed to 38%.

Source, UNHS 2019/20 Report

Meanwhile, as regards the main fuel used for lighting in the 2019/20 report, 14% were using tadooba (paraffin lamp) as opposed to only 19% using grid electricity. Solar power at 27% leads as the main fuel for lighting for Ugandans.

According to Global Forest Watch, an international online forest monitoring and alert system, the destruction of forest cover from 2001 to 2020, Uganda lost 918,000 hectares of tree cover equivalent to a 12% decrease in tree cover since 2000 and 413 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

A report by Relief Web says human induced climate change (like deforestation) is likely to increase average temperatures in Uganda by up to 1.5 degrees Centigrade and by up to 4.3 degrees Centigrade by the 2080s.

The destruction of forests cover has also led to persistent floods and landslides in areas like Bududa on the slopes of Mt. Elgon.

Main fuel used for cooking in Uganda Source- UBOS UNHS 2019/20

Other highlights in the UBOS report are:

  • Total population = 41m
  • Sex ratio: 97 males per 100 females
  • Average family size = 4.6 persons (largest in Teso 5.9 and smallest in Kampala 3.4)
  • Population below 18 years = 54%
  • Urban population = 27% 
  • Net primary school enrolment = 91% 
  • Net secondary school enrolment = 27% (Highest in Kampala 52%; lowest in Acholi 7%)
  • Literacy rate = 76% (adults only 72%)
  • Population with non-communicable diseases = 3.5% 
  • Population that abuses alcohol = 18% (highest in Karamoja 48%; lowest in Busoga 4%)
  • Health insurance coverage = 4% (down from 5% in 2017)
  • Ugandans working (o/o working age population) = 74% (down from 79% in 2017)
  • Agricultural workers = 68% (up from 64% in 2017)
  • Child labour = 28%
  • Improved water source = 79%
  • 3 in 10 Ugandans have improved toilet
  • Mobile phones = 74% 
  • Radios = 32% (down from 45% in 2017)
  • Television = 19% (up from 17% in 2017)
  • Computers = 2%
  • Internet use = 83% for social networking; 16% for business 
  • Households operating a business = 31% (down from 38% in 2017)
  • Source of capital = 81% own savings (loans from banks 0.4%)
  • Households in subsistence economy = 39% i.e., 3.5m from 3.3m in 2017. 
  • Population in poverty = 20.3% (down from 21.4% in 2017)
  • Total population in poverty = 8.3m (up from 8m in 2017)
  • Poverty distribution: Acholi 68%, Karamoja 66%, Bukedi 35%, Busoga 29%, Kigezi 28%, Lango 23%, Teso 22%, West Nile 17%, North Buganda 14%, *Elgon 13%*, Ankole 13%, Tooro 13%, Bunyoro 10%, South Buganda 7%, Kampala 2%. 
  • Contribution to national poverty by region: Busoga 14.5%, Bukedi 10.4%, Acholi 10.3%, Northern Buganda 8.1%, Teso 7.1%, Karamoja 6.5%, Tooro 6.5%, Ankole 6.4%, Lango 5.4%, South Buganda 5.3%, West Nile 5.2%, Kigezi 5.2%, Bunyoro 4.3%, *Elgon* 4.1%, Kampala 0.5%.
  • Regions where poverty has reduced: West Nile (from 35% in 2017 to 17% in 2020), Bunyoro (from 17% to 10%), Teso (from 25% to 22%), Elgon (from 35% to 13%) Bukedi (from 44% to 35%), Busoga (from 38% to 29%), South Buganda (from 9% to 7%), Kampala (from 3% to 2%). 
  • Regions where poverty increased: Acholi (from 33% in 2017 to 68% in 2020), Ankole (from 7% to 12%), Karamoja (from 60% to 66%), Lango (from 16% to 23%), Kigezi (from 12% to 28%), Toro (from 11% to 13%), and North Buganda (from 11% to 14%)

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