The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved total financing of $148.2 million (Shs 562bn) to enable Uganda to improve sustainable management of forests and protected areas.
The said funding will also enable Uganda increase benefits to forest-dependent communities, including refugees and their host communities.
Some $78.2m of this financing is a concessional credit, while $70m is a grant, including $58m from the International Development Association’s (IDA18) sub-window for refugees and host communities.
The Uganda Investing in Forests and Protected Areas for Climate-Smart Development Project support will focus on the Albertine Region and the refugee-hosting areas in Northern Uganda.
The Albertine landscape sustains a large and rapidly growing population, biodiversity of globally important significance and which protect and deliver important ecosystems services.
This landscape is also central to Uganda’s tourism industry, which makes a major contribution to Uganda’s economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings, jobs, and revenue. It is estimated that Uganda’s natural capital contributed almost 40 percent to overall wealth in 2014, but forests and wetlands are being lost and degraded rapidly.
The project will finance infrastructure and equipment for management and protection, including through participatory management with communities, of 7 National Parks, 4 Wildlife Reserves and up to 28 forest reserves, and development of key tourism infrastructure.
In addition, the project will invest in plantation forestry and wood value chains with the aim of enabling plantation forestry to become a strong and self-sustaining economic sector.
“This project is timely and will provide vital assistance to vulnerable communities that depend on forests to withstand climate shocks and complements our ongoing efforts to scale up support to the tourism sector which has been severely impacted by COVID-19,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda.
Currently, Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees and is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the third largest worldwide. The continued inflow of refugees combined with existing and protracted refugee situations has exacerbated a range of ongoing environmental impacts and associated challenges.
In refugee-hosting areas of Northern and Western Uganda, the project will support forest management in selected protected areas and aim to increase tree cover in the host community landscapes supporting agroforestry and woodlot establishment.
“Uganda’s Third National Development Plan prioritizes, among others, forestry, tourism, and jobs. This project will not only increase ecosystem goods and services, but also generate more revenue from forests and protected areas in the Albertine Rift and West Nile Region,” said Ross Hughes, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project.
The Ministry of Water and Environment will lead implementation of the project with support from the National Forestry Authority and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.