Climate change increasingly affects many regions of Uganda, especially the cattle corridor where Nakasongola district is located. However, the district has inadequate institutional, human capacity and knowledge for vulnerability assessment, to facilitate planning of adaptation and mitigation measures. Assessment of capacity, knowledge gaps, and needs is a key prerequisite in implementation of robust capacity building activities that can strengthen institutions in designing, implementing, coordination, and monitoring and evaluating the country’s climate actions.

This study was carried out to identify capacity-building gaps and needs that would contribute to achieving adaptation and mitigation objectives in Nakasongola District, Uganda. Stakeholders consulted were from various departments of Nakasongola Local Government, as well as non-government entities. Procedures used included: (a) desk reviews of global-level and national-level literature, and (b) Participatory rural appraisal (PRA).

The findings from the PRA were categories into the following: (i) Institutional issues, namely, capacity, gaps, and needs, (ii) human capacity issues, namely gaps and needs, (iii) Knowledge, namely, gaps and needs, (iv) Gender-related issues, and (v) experience from previous adaptation pilots in Nakasongola District.

Institutional issues: With regard to vulnerability assessment, Nakasongola district leaders consider the nature of climate change hazard, the geographical area most affected and frequency of occurrence. They also consider available knowledge, skills and exposure to climate change adaptation, possibly to devise appropriate intervention measures. Income levels of the affected communities are also considered, as this would influence to some degree, the nature of interventions to be introduced. The main approaches used in carrying out climate change vulnerability assessment include: conducting participatory rural appraisals (PRA) in the sampled villages/ communities, using standard tools (questionnaire/checklist); drawing from reports of LG departments and UNMA for seasonal weather updates and impacts and development of disaster reduction maps & action plans. These approaches fall short of the standard procedures for vulnerability assessment as presented in USAID (2014) and the National Climate Change Training Manual for the InterInstitutional Climate Change Desk Officers and Relevant Stakeholders for Uganda (MWE, 2017).

Gender issues : Although the district does not have a Gender action plan per se, gender issues were mainstreamed in all action plans. The most common measures put in place to involve women include: ensuring participation of at least 30% of women and youth in all their activities; involving women and youth in sensitisation and training; promotion of Government and NGO programs involving women and youth as well as conducting needs assessment and supporting the identified needs.

Regarding Institutional capacity for climate change-related assessment(s), most respondents identified inadequate funding and poor infrastructure for data collection, followed by absence of a climate change office to develop a climate change action plan that would galvanise planning and response, and inadequate capacity for data collection, analysis and dissemination. In view of this, respondents proposed a need for improvement in infrastructure for data collection, storage and retrieval by digitizing weather stations, purchase computers of higher capacity and improving internet access. Also proposed is the need to build capacity for climate change action and adaptation planning, and the need to recruit more staff (including a climate change officer) in key departments.

On human capacity for climate change-related assessment(s), respondents identified : very few staff members with skills for climate change-related issues as the number one capacity gap, followed by lack of a climate change officer to galvanise planning and response. To address these gaps, respondents identified: Training in climate change vulnerability assessment & participatory planning; and the need for Training in climate change action planning, adaptation & mitigation. Generally, most respondents indicated the need for training in climate change assessment and PRA to address few staff with skills and lack of climate change officers.

On knowledge for climate change assessment, the majority of respondents identified Limited knowledge on climate change issues (vulnerability assessment, planning, adaptation and mitigation) as a major gap in the district, followed by Insufficient knowledge on research methods, data analysis, interpretation & reporting. There is a need to train district and lower-level Government staff in climate change issues; sensitise communities on climate change adaptation and mitigation, train them in research methods and develop an interactive knowledge management and communication strategy.