EbA Evidence and Policy: Uganda

IIED, IUCN and Uganda's Ministry of Water and Environment are using practical experience of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to improve the way EbA is integrated into national climate change policy and law.

July 2015 - December 2022
Xiaoting Hou Jones

 Xiaoting Hou Jones was a senior researcher in the biodiversity team of IIED's Natural Resources research group until March 2024

Ecosystem-based adaptation
A programme of work focused on people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to climate change and promote sustainable development
Field visit as part of the Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation project, Mount Elgon, Uganda (IUCN)

Field visit as part of the Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation project, Mount Elgon, Uganda (Photo: IUCN)

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and promote sustainable development. Between 2015 and 2022, IIED, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) are jointly implementing a project called 'Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy' (EbA Evidence and Policy). Working with local partners in 12 countries, the project aims to gather practical evidence and develop country-specific policy guidance on EbA, and to promote EbA at international level. More information and all the case study sites are available via the main project page

What are we doing in Uganda?

IIED and IUCN  are working with Uganda's Ministry of Water and Environment to gain policy insights from a project that implemented ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in rural communities near Mount Elgon National Park.

IIED and IUCN have used the project's framework for assessing EbA effectiveness to consult with communities and national and local government staff. The findings will be combined with those from the 11 other countries to help show climate change policymakers when and why EbA is effective. 

Mountain EbA at Mount Elgon

The 'Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Mountain Ecosystems Project' focused on improving ecosystem management in four rural districts near Mount Elgon National Park. The people in these districts (Kween, Kapchorwa, Bulambuli and Sironko) depend largely on rain-fed subsistence crop production. 

Soil erosion, flooding and landslides, due to soil destabilisation, drought, and problems managing water, are predicted to become worse with climate change. Overexploitation and poor land management also occur.

During 2014 and 2015 the Mountain EbA project helped address these challenges by restoring, maintaining and enhancing the capacity of the ecosystem to continue to produce natural services for local communities, and withstand climate change impacts and other stressors. EbA measures taken included the use of roadside drainage bunds and run-off retention drains to improve water retention, and tree planting using an agroforestry approach to stabilise soil to reduce landslides.

Find out more about the Mountain EbA project from the Mountain Elgon Stakeholder Forum website.

Lessons emerging from the Mount Elgon sites include:

  • The importance of adopting highly participatory and interactive approaches to ensure EbA project success
  • Having a high level of flexibility that takes into consideration community needs, time, resources and local knowledge, and 
  • Including EbA interventions that quickly generate economic and social benefits for communities, in order to secure local support.

Informing policy

Uganda's Ministry of Water and Environment is coordinating efforts to promote climate change adaptation and mitigation. It was the lead government agency collaborating with IUCN, UN Environment and UNDP to implement the Mountain EbA project, and is leading work to promote the better integration of EbA principles into policy and planning at the national level.

In the video below Hussein Matanda, Chair, Mt Elgon Ecosystem Stakeholders Forum, discusses why EbA is important for Uganda

Updates from IUCN Uganda


We continued to support various key national policy processes to integrate EbA including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) review process, revision of the National Climate Change Act 2021, as well as the annual review of the Natural Resources, Environment, Climate Change, Land and Water Management (NRECCLWM) programme.

We continued to engage and support members of Climate Action Network Uganda by providing expertise on Nature-based solutions including EbA.

We supported local communities to implement EbA activities in Atari-Kaptokwoi and Sipi-Chebonet micro catchments, Sipi Sub Catchment, Awoja Catchment.

We contributed to a stroymap highlighting why and how to work at watershed level to ensure effective EbA and a podcast examining why including nature in NDCs is important to deliver climate change ambitions.

We joined a CBA15 side session on the role of communications in promoting EbA effectiveness. A recording of the session is available.


We provided technical inputs to integrate EbA into key national policies including NDC,  the draft Climate Change Bill 2020 and draft wetland bill and policies.

We supported local communities to implement EbA in Mt Elgo Atari Kaptokwoi and Sipi Chebonet micro watersheds.

We contributed to a storymap and a photo album sharing experiences of how the implementation of EbA contributed to community resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also contributed to a Flickr album showcasing examples from several countries.

December 2017
Our briefing paper 'Ecosystem-based adaptation: the key to reducing climate risk in Uganda' was distributed during a post-COP23 (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) workshop held in Kampala.

The 105 participants sharing feedback on the outcomes of the COP and implications for Uganda included representatives of government ministries, departments and agencies, civil society organisations, indigenous peoples, private practitioners, research institutions, academics, media, and climate policy negotiators. The meeting was an opportunity to share key lessons on EbA approaches and some of the tools that we have successfully used to promote wider uptake and influence decisions at higher level.

November 2017
Our briefing paper 'Ecosystem-based adaptation: the key to reducing climate risk in Uganda' was published in time for the Mount Elgon Stakeholder's Forum (MESF) meeting convened by IUCN in Mbale District to showcase key lessons learnt during implementation of the Mountain EbA project and recommendations for upscaling and informing policy.

June 2017
We participated in the 11th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA11), which focused on harnessing natural resources and ecosystems for adaptation. Our poster on 'Tools for adaptation: radio and phone apps' won first prize in the conference poster competition, and our short film on the use of ICT tools for adaptation was shown in the film session.

In the week before CBA11, we co-sponsored the First National Community Based Adaptation Symposium, and took part to share our experience on EbA approaches, lessons and challenges. The symposium aimed to develop a country position on CBA. Watch Sophie Kutegeka presenting the main aspects of the national position paper as an introductory speech to CBA11.

October 2017
In two preparatory meetings for the COP23, we brought together civil society organisations, government representatives for agriculture and climate change, and the climate change negotiators for Uganda. The aim was to support the integration of key EbA lessons and recommendations into the ongoing policy formulations such as the national Climate Change Bill and inform the decisions taken during the COP23 meetings.

July 2017
IUCN, with the Climate Action Network Uganda and Network for Civil Society Organisations in Environment and Natural Resources sector (ENR-CSO) network member organisations, convened the post-COP22 stakeholder reflection workshop that brought together civil society organisations and government ministries, departments and agencies. Central in the discussion was the need for the government to fast track the Climate Change Bill process while ensuring inclusiveness, and mainstream and take up EbA approaches as one of the long-term projects to restore ecosystems.

August 2016
We hosted a two-day field study excursion for the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change – Uganda to build capacity among its members to advocate for the integration of EbA approaches in the ongoing review and enacting of relevant legislation, including the Climate Change Bill and the National Environment Act, and to influence the establishment of climate change adaptation institutions, including a climate change department and further climate change adaptation centres, the first of which was set up under the Mountain EbA project near Mount Elgon. Participants included 15 members of parliament.

Additional resources

Ecosystem-based adaptation: question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness, Hannah Reid, Nathalie Seddon, Edmund Barrow, Charlotte Hicks, Xiaoting Hou-Jones, Ali Raza Rizvi, Dilys Roe, Sylvia Wicander (2017), IIED 


International Climate Initiative (IKI).
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports the IKI on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.