How climate change is portending worse, armed conflict and insecurity

Author: Mr Karoli Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.

What you need to know:

  • National Water and other water authorities are struggling to handle pressure on lower water levels everywhere, boosting a private well sinking industry that will in the long term make fresh water scarce.

First are quick prayers for the repose of the soul of Justice Kenneth Kakuru, the fallen Justice of the Court of Appeal who breathed his last in Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi on Monday. I last talked to him in September when I heard he was back at the Court of Appeal after a long medical leave. He said he was better, and had begun hearing single applications. 
Justice Kakuru, son of an Anglican clergyman, was a “belief and conviction person”. Never at any one time did he trade these beliefs for expedience. He was hardly a Mr. Congeniality at times. This shrinking number in the Judiciary is a cause of concern, as a would be double, Justice Esther Kisaakye Kitimbo is facing the guillotine for casual but of necessity made remarks during the presidential election petition in 2021. It is very difficult to see how another Kakuru or Kisaakye is ever appointed a Judge again.

Before he became a Judge, Justice Kakuru was an environmental lawyer, so this is an obit in his memory. The period 2000-2020 has been a period of profound change globally marked by a consistent rise in both ocean and land temperatures. Many forms of life are under strain. For most populations, it is now food insecurity, but also sustainable energy forms. We interpret food as one of the three basic requirements for sustenance of human life, as the cost of being alive and contributing to society.
In Uganda, the tyranny in the market has failed to abate even while fuel prices fall. Processed food, maize flour, wheat flour, legumes, cooking oil have all doubled since 2020. Sugar, a key ingredient in food, is now 50 percent more expensive than it was in 2020. 
After the end of the 30-year protection from imported food, it is now cheaper to buy imported chicken and fruits than that produced locally. A locally produced kuroiler chicken commands Shs30,000, while an imported European bird is just Shs15,000. Beef is stable but for different reasons. 

Farmers are culling their herds due to shrinking pastures caused by climate change. The differential being the cost of animal feeds. Systematic sabotage in the agricultural sector where inputs are adulterated, impotent planting materials and high cost of farm supplies are bankrupting farmers. Fisheries have been in some kind of tailspin since 2020 when massive numbers of Nile perch began floating dead on Lake Victoria. 
Fish exports continue to fall. Fish is an unaffordable food item for most families. In the low-tide, fish are evading the nets. Entire fishing communities can’t tap into demand for fish. Landing sites are now home to rotting boats, fishermen can’t afford fuel to go out and fish. Global fisheries can only meet 58 percent of the demand. A total ban on fishing on Lake Victoria could allow stocks to revive, but not before the full political consequences are evaluated.

Rainfall totals continue to fall everywhere. A typical rainy season is not what it used to be; the total number of days on which precipitation is recorded continues to drop, a development that is creating food deserts in the country. Many workers now have to negotiate for “food” separate from their actual pay. 
This can only escalate unemployment in tough economic times. A good measure of whether people in metro-areas are having enough food are unusual appetites at funerals and social gatherings.

In the environmental debate, there are no clear answers. Natural forests must be protected, yet also exploited to meet everyday demands for food, firewood, shelter and building materials. Planted forests must be promoted to reduce pressure on natural forests but they bring little in the form of biodiversity. Local governments “tax” charcoal even though its production degrades the environment. No easy answers.
National Water and other water authorities are struggling to handle pressure on lower water levels everywhere, boosting a private well sinking industry that will in the long term make fresh water scarce.  And then the real guns will come out, it will be an armed and angry society like no one ever saw before. 
May Judge Kenneth Kakuru’s soul rest in eternal Peace.  

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]