In the last few weeks, Kampala has experienced several downpours. One wonders if this is the same pattern in the rest of the country, where much of the agricultural production takes place. 

 Miriam Katunze

A recent collaborative study by CARE-Uganda and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) showed that Uganda has, in the last 30 years, experienced an erratic rainfall pattern, with prolonged drought seasons.

In the past few weeks, Kampala has experienced several downpours. One wonders if this is the same pattern in the rest of the country, where much of the agricultural production takes place. A recent collaborative study by CARE-Uganda and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) showed that Uganda has, in the last 30 years, experienced an erratic rainfall pattern, with prolonged drought seasons.

This has resulted in widespread crop failures, especially in northern Uganda. Livestock losses resulting from the drought of 2010 amounted to $428.2m (Shs 1.1 trillion). Investments in infrastructure for water for agricultural production such as dams, valley tanks,  and irrigation ponds are thus necessary. To ensure effective and appropriate investments, there is need to overcome challenges facing the planning and implementation of such programmes.

First is the limited government resource envelope that must be allocated to the various activities. Recent donor funding to supplement government efforts to the sector have also been insufficient and limited in geographical scope. This situation is made worse by the planning and investment dilemmas.  Planning for water for agricultural production involves three public ministries: Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and Water and Environment (MoWE).

MoFPED allocates funds for water for agricultural production. MAAIF and MoWE plan and implement water for agricultural production and on- and off-farm activities. While these ministries have a consensus on the need to invest in water for agricultural production, we find that the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations are lower than planned set targets. This uncoordinated planning impacts on investments, hence spreading resources thinly.

There are also weak institutional synergies, given that each institution has a different but overlapping mandate. For example in Otuke district, off-farm activities resulted in Akwera dam being placed in areas that could not be easily accessed by farmers for on-farm use.

In order to harness the opportunities presented by water for agricultural production, the country could benefit if MoFPED synchronises MTEF allocations to match planned targets. It is equally important that mandates of MAAIF and MoWE for planning and investment in water for agricultural production programmes be harmonised to ensure effective service delivery to farmers. 

Miriam Katunze is an nalyst at the Economic Policy Research Centre. This article was first published in Observer on 10th September 2014.

 
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