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Rural-Urban Dynamics in the East African Mountains

 | 
Sylvain Racaud
, 
Bob R. Nakileza
, 
François Bart
, 
et al.

Part 2

6. Spatial and temporal changes in land use and cover in the Atari catchment on Mt Elgon slopes

Clare M. Nantumbwe et Moses M. Tenywa

Texte intégral

1Land use and cover change (LUCC) in the fragile mountain environments, largely due to the increase in human and livestock populations, has profound effects on the ecosystem leading to land degradation (Desjardin et al. 2004, Murty et al. 2002). In developing countries where a large proportion of the human population depends almost entirely on natural resources for their livelihoods, there are increasing competing demands for utilization and development of the land resources resulting in land-use and cover changes (Mwavu and Witkowski 2008). About 77.3 % of all land use change is due to conversion of forests and grasslands for arable land use and cover (Desjardin et al. 2004). Forests worldwide have been disappearing at an alarming rate, with an estimated 86 % of the original forest cover already lost by 1993 (WRI 1994). Uganda’s forests and other natural vegetation types are no exception; the forest cover has declined to about 4 % (NEMA 2010). Understanding the dynamics of LUCC has increasingly been recognized as one of the key research areas in the global environmental change research (e.g. Turner et al. 1989, 1994, Lambin et al. 2001, 2003, Geist and Hinrichs 2012).

2Land use and cover change affects environmental and social economic conditions (Krishna et al. 2003, Mundia and Aniya 2006). Gaining a better understanding of the ways that land use and cover practices are evolving is a priority concern of the global change research community (Kitutu 2002, Otte 1991). Projecting the future state of LUCC is a requirement for making numerical predictions about other global changes (Eric et al. 2003). In Uganda drastic changes in land use and cover have occurred and been attributed to many factors. The causes or drivers of the land use change at higher resolution are not clear though most researchers attribute it to change in population pressure. This study sets out to assess the LUCC and related drivers in the Atari site. The working hypothesis: land use/cover change is significantly influenced by community and household characteristics in the study area. The drivers of the temporal and spatial changes need to be understood in order to sustainably manage the fragile mountain ecosystems for improved ecosystem services.

Materials and methods

Study area

3The study was carried out in the Kapchorwa and Kween districts located at Latitudes 10 7’N, 10 36’N and Longitudes 340 18’E, 340 48’E in the Atari catchment in Mt Elgon. The area was considered representative of the entire Mt Elgon region in terms of land use and cover dynamics (Luzinda 2008). Agriculture and forestry are the major land use types in the area. The soils in the area belong to the Benet series. They are derived from the volcanic ash and agglomerate (NEMA 2010/2011). The soils are typically brown to reddish brown loams overlying a deep, red, clay loam sub-soil. The climate is generally a cool temperate type with a bimodal rainfall pattern. The rainfall amount received ranges from 1,200-2,500 mm per year. The major first season rains fall between March and April, while the second rainy season comes in September to November. There is a 90 % probability that areas on Mt Elgon will receive at least 1,000 mm of rainfall in a given year (Soini 2007). The short dry spell is in June/July. The long dry season extends from December to March (Government of Uganda 1996, Government of Uganda 2004). Depending on the altitude, the minimum and maximum temperatures range from 0° to 27°C (Soini 2007). The vegetation of the area includes the mixed montane forest comprising of both mixed afro-montane and poor forest (at altitude < 2,500 m); the bamboo and low canopy montane forest (2,400 to 3,000 m); the high montane heath (3,000 m to 3,500 m) and the moorland (> 3,500 m).

4The majority of the population belongs to the Sabiny (86 %), including the Ndorobos, who used to be forest dwellers, and the Bamasaba (10 %), who are mainly cultivators. The other ethnic groups are a minority in the district (4 %). The population of the Kapchorwa district totalled 116,702 people (Population and Census 1991) but increased to 288,937 inclusive of the newly created districts of Bukwo and Kween (UBOS 2014); which was two and a half times within approximately two decades. The population density is estimated at 67 persons per km2.

Figure 22. Location of Atari catchment in Mt Elgon, Uganda

Figure 22. Location of Atari catchment in Mt Elgon, Uganda

Research design

5The study was both qualitative and quantitative; it involved image interpretation and field surveys for primary data collection combined with secondary data/information. Three village focus group discussions were conducted to obtain data about the spatial and temporal land use change, its drivers, and the interactions between the rural and urban areas. Two districts (Kween and Kapchorwa) were focused on. The research design applied multi-stage sampling. The counties comprised the sub-strata, the sub-counties the clusters, the parishes comprised of the sub-clusters and the villages were enumeration areas. Atari river catchment was selected and divided into 3 strata following the three topographical zones (i) the upper (very steep, steep), (ii) mid (moderately steep, strongly sloping) and (iii) lower (moderately sloping, flat) altitudinal zones.

LUCC (Land Use and Cover Change) mapping

6The Landsat data sets used were for 1973, 1984 and 2010 (Table 10) at a scale of 30 m and 80 m resolution.

Table 10. Data type and year of production of the Landsat image

Table 10. Data type and year of production of the Landsat image

7The images were analysed using Arc GIS following the schematic procedure. Further analysis was undertaken using pivot tables and GenStat 13th edition. The investigation work included data acquisition and reconnaissance survey. The data was enhanced, processed, integrated and a classification scheme developed. The initial land use and cover was classified and ground-truthed. The maps were initially edited and final land use and cover maps produced thus enabling the change to be detected.

8The mapping of the spatial and temporal pattern of land use and cover change at the different altitudes from 1973 to 2010 involved different techniques (Robert 2000); a baseline survey, transect walks and interpretation of satellite images of 1973, 1984 and 2010 (De Jong et al. 2000). Series of systematically corrected Ortho-rectified Landsat imageries of 1973, 1984 and 2010 were downloaded from the Landsat website. Satellite images were analysed using unsupervised image classification and the land use/cover was validated and/or reconstructed by ground-truthing. The land use and cover was classified according to the Uganda National Biomass study classification system sheet 55/1 series Y732, edition I.U.S.D. The current land use map was ground-truthed and validated according to the 1963 Kaproron and Kapchorwa topographic sheets (1: 50,000).

9A classified land use and cover map of 2010 at a scale of 1: 90,000 was verified using ground-truthing and visual interpretation in the field (Lillesand and Keifer 1994). Prominent objects were selected, systematically based on the use of transects. Sampling was at every 20 km point along the major road, on either side of the road. The values for the relational and context features used in the preliminary classification of the objects were double checked for accuracy and the surrounding objects noted. At each point, information for the surrounding objects was collected, resulting in an increased sample size.

Household questionnaire

10In each zone two villages along the river Atari were selected and random sampling of the 281 households done. Primary data was collected from selected villages using a semi-structured questionnaire. The questionnaire helped to collect socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents and related information on the drivers of land use cover change in Atari catchment.

Secondary sources

11Different types of data were collected on a national level and divisional level. Time series data were given priority in order to understand the change in land use as well as the basic needs of the population. Land use related data sought included history of land use, agriculture, forestry, human settlement, urban development and demographic and socio economic related data population, income, food demand and settlement. Most of the data was collected from different government as well as non government offices like the district offices, Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute, Lands and Survey Entebbe, FAO, UNDP and internet sources.

Table 11. Selected study villages in the area

Table 11. Selected study villages in the area

Results and discussion

Land use and cover change

12The analysis of the satellite images revealed three major land use types in 1973 and 1984: the forest, grassland and farmland. However, in 2010, another land use class of degraded forest was identified (fig. 23).

Figure 23. Land use and cover for the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984, 2010

Figure 23. Land use and cover for the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984, 2010

13The results show that the land use and cover for 1973 was dominated by the natural forest, covering an area of 68.4 %, followed by the grassland covering 12 % and farmland 13 %. In later years a declining trend was observed. The land use and cover in 1984 under natural forest declined to 59.5 % while that of grassland was 16 % and farmland only 12 %. The natural forest still dominated in 2010 by 56.1 % followed by the degraded forest (17.2 %), grassland (13 %) and lastly the farmland (13 %). The area under farmland increased by 2.1 % in 1984 and further by 1.4 % in 2010 (P ≤ 001). It was noted that despite the changes over time the natural forest remained dominant across the three time periods (Table 12).

Table 12. Area occupied by different land use and cover in the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984 and 2010

Table 12. Area occupied by different land use and cover in the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984 and 2010

Figure 24. Area change between 1973 and 2010

Figure 24. Area change between 1973 and 2010

The Drivers of Land Use/Cover Changes

14The above changes in land use and cover were attributed to different drivers including population increase, government policy on conservation, change in community livelihoods and insecurity in the region as described below.

Population increase

15During the focus group discussions, the local communities reported that since the 1960’s, the population in Atari catchment had increased. The increase was significant in the last two to three decades. This correlated well with statistical data from UBOS (2002) (fig. 25). The population increase was attributed to early marriages; the local community remarked that girls get married below the age of consent (<18 years) as required by the law in Uganda. Furthermore, until recently, the Sabiny society was mainly polygamous and most of the population was not educated. The population increase over time is also partly attributed to immigration.

Figure 25. Population increase for the Kapchorwa district from 1980- 2010, Atari catchment (Kaptanya Sub County) between 1991 to 2011 (UBOS 2002)

Figure 25. Population increase for the Kapchorwa district from 1980- 2010, Atari catchment (Kaptanya Sub County) between 1991 to 2011 (UBOS 2002)

16Correspondingly, based on the National census data, the population density in Kapchorwa has increased from 42.6 persons per km2 in 1960 to 217.6 persons per km2 in 2007. This has led to a decline in farmland size; in the 1960s, on average a farmer owned > 5 acres but now quite a number own barely 3 acres. In the Atari catchment, the majority of the respondents (90 %) own 1-3 acres of land and a few own land ranging between 4-7 acres. Therefore, the demand on the land has increased, resulting in land degradation, hence low crop yield. This has led to more pressure on available forest resources.

Figure 26. Size of land cultivated by farmers in the Atari catchment

Figure 26. Size of land cultivated by farmers in the Atari catchment

Insecurity

17Insecurity within the region too has been attributed to population increase in the upper Atari catchment. The communities recognized the disturbance by the Karamajong cattle rustlers. The displaced persons are mainly from the plains and lowlands; they abandoned their land and moved to the highlands. This in turn led to land shortages (Luzinda 2008). Originally, the Karamajong were using traditional spears, bows and arrows to fight the Sabiny but after the 1979 civil war that toppled Amin’s regime, the Karamajong acquired guns. This changed the pattern and intensity of the raids; there were armed cattle raids in neighbouring districts such as Sironko. The Sabiny got discouraged from rearing cattle i.e. their traditional pastoral livelihood. It was reported that not only was there displacement but loss of their fertile lands for grazing and cultivation in the lowlands (Luzinda 2008).

Shift in community livelihood strategies

18The local economy is predominantly subsistence though over time the livelihood strategies have changed, thus contributing to land use change in the area. The communities were originally pastoralists but have changed to farming after being discouraged by the raids and learning more about crop cultivation from their neighbours in Bugisu and Kenya. Initially, they grew yams and millet. However, the growing of millet declined with time because it is nutrient demanding and more labour intensive. Therefore, they embarked on growing maize and sorghum. The dominant crops currently grown are diverse i.e. maize, wheat, barley, millet, Irish potatoes, cabbage, bananas, onions, coffee, beans, cow peas and tomatoes. To a greater extent, however, the preference and change in the crops grown depends on the available market price. The growing of horticultural crops has been favoured by climatic conditions (high rainfall and cool temperatures) and fertile volcanic soils.

19Maize is the first preference crop in the Atari catchment; local people consider it to be the best food and cash crop. It was reported that maize was introduced from Kenya and grown in the early 1970s on a small scale. The hybrid maize is still obtained from Kenya because it performs well in the cold and high altitude areas such as in Kapchorwa. In the 1970s, maize was grown largely for subsistence purposes. The production of maize on a commercial scale increased in the area in the 1980s because of the increased market; both local and regional. The price of maize was reportedly encouraging to the farmers; for instance, there was a dramatic increase from 20,000 UGX per 100 kg bag in the year 2000 to 50,000 UGX in 2009 (fig. 27). It was reported that this led to expansion in acreage of maize production.

Figure 27. Trend in the price of maize since 1986

Figure 27. Trend in the price of maize since 1986

20Another crop occupying large acreage in the area is wheat. Its cultivation started in Bukwo in the 1960’s but the farmers in Atari adopted it on a small scale in 1965. Wheat production increased because the maturation period is short and the market is relatively favourable.

21As observed by Luzinda (2008) many people in Kapchorwa district have shifted from pastoral activity primarily because they have lost their livestock due to drought, raids or disease among others.

Local farming innovations and technology

22Crop rotation patterns practiced by the communities are largely through experience (inherited) from the grandparents and also as a result of the District Agricultural Officers who realized a decline in the crop yields hence embarked on advising farmers. Traditionally, degraded farmland was left to fallowing and livestock grazing for some years. This practice enabled natural soil fertility restoration. The period of fallow depends on the amount of land a farmer owns; it ranges from 2 to 5 years. The livestock help in ox-ploughing but trees are commonly reduced or eliminated on farmlands to ease the farming operations. This has negative consequences in terms of soil degradation and reduction in resource base.

23The farmers recognized that the decision to grow a particular crop is driven by the existing marketing opportunities and the prevailing price. This affects the crop rotation patterns. Respondents also observed that when they grow a crop without fertilizer, the yield is very small. Use of fertilizers was reported to have increased over time. Farmers are knowledgeable of which fertilizer to apply and when to apply it (table 13). Their motive for fertilizer application is largely driven by the desire for higher yield and profit making.

Table 13. Types of fertilizers applied in the Atari catchment

Table 13. Types of fertilizers applied in the Atari catchment

24The farmers also realize that soil erosion has been a serious problem since the deforestation started. This is evidenced by the rills and gullies, landslides and mud falls during the rainy season (NEMA 2010). It is also evidenced by the dirty water during and after the rains. The farmers are practicing some soil erosion control methods such as contour ploughing, terraces, live bunds, Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), water trenches, mulching and tree planting to reduce the soil erosion rates.

Socio-political changes and government policies

25Changes in political regimes in the late 1970s and 1980s created opportunities for local community encroachment on conservation areas including the Mt Elgon forest reserve. Such encroachment, however, was short-lived and communities only grazed their livestock or cultivated quick maturing crops such as horticultural crops. Communities were then evicted as soon as the new political regime became stable and institutions got working normally. However, this left behind degraded patches of forests.

26It clearly emerged from focus group discussions that government policies and programmes have directly or indirectly impacted on land use change in the Atari catchment. The key policies include the Uganda Wildlife Policy, which emphasizes non-human settlement in protected areas. The Mount Elgon park and others are a product of the colonial and post-colonial government policies of gazetting livestock grazing territory without due consideration of pastoralists who have lived side-by-side with the wildlife and natural vegetation. During the period 1938 to 1993, the Mt Elgon reserve was managed primarily for protection of its water catchment values and for limited exploitation of its timber resources by commercial harvesting operations and pit-sawyers. In October 1993, the Government of Uganda raised its conservation status from Mt Elgon Forest Reserve to National Park. Uganda Wildlife Authority now manages the Park under strict regulations for resource access.

27In Uganda, the legislation which has had significant impact on land use is the 1995 constitution and the 1998 Land Act; both of these streamlined and freed the land market in the country. One-third of the Kapchorwa district area is public land that comprises of Mt Elgon National Park. Approximately 97 % of the arable land outside the park is under customary tenure. With high levels of population density, conflict over the public areas is frequent. Some groups who had been encroaching on the park reserve have been resettled in an area that was converted from public to private use.

28In the 1990s, the forest department, as required by the new Forest policy (Luzinda 2008), ordered the communities out of the forest so as to conserve it. Cultivators were forcibly removed from time to time and crops and housing structures destroyed, but they quickly returned, as law enforcement resources were inadequate to effectively patrol the entire boundary. It was reported that park rangers have also unofficially allowed encroachment to take place in the past and some are said to have profited from allocating plots of land to local people (KDSOER, 2004). In the 1960’s the Benet community who were living in the forest moved down because they wanted to associate with the communities outside. A portion of the forest land (6000 ha) was degazetted for the Benets and other Sabiny displaced by conflict in the lowlands. Agricultural encroachment into the national park is considered by park managers to be the major threat to the Mt. Elgon ecosystem.

Discussion

29The spatial and temporal distribution of land use change represents the intensity and pattern of the relationship between human and environment on various scales (Liu et al. 2014). Interdependent demographic, socio-cultural, economic, organizational, technological and institutional factors influence the decision of land managers to maintain or change the current land use and its utilization. This study demonstrates that the interplay of these various factors acts in a rather intricate manner over time and space is causing changes in land use and cover.

30The natural forest in 1973 was dominant even outside the gazetted area, by then the Mt Elgon forest reserve. Thus the population was more or less in harmony with nature. This quasi-equilibrium was later offset due to LUCC driven by numerous factors. In the first instance, the Benet population livelihood was largely dependent on pastoralism, hunting, fruit and herbs collection (Luzinda 2008). After 1973, the Benet communities embraced cultivation on a limited scale within the forest reserve. Luzinda further argued that subsequently as the Benet population and number of livestock increased, there was expansion in forest encroachment and interference with forest regeneration. The reduction in the natural forest caused a decline in biomass and also carbon loss that contribute to global warming and climate change. The upsurge in Benet and livestock population was accentuated by insecurity resulting from cattle rustling by Karamojongs in low lying areas. The role of conflict as a contributory factor in land use change is also reported in other mountains in East Africa. For instance, studies by Mbonile et al. (2004) reported on conflicts contributing to land use dynamics on Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

31According to UBOS (2010), the period 1973 to 2010 witnessed tremendous population growth and land pressure. This led to more destruction of forest cover (Eric et al. 2003). The capacity to exploit the land increased in the 1980s to 2010 because much of the work could be done by introduced oxen (Briggs et al., 1998). The agricultural land was expanded to support the increasing population (Armitag 1998) and also meet external demands from growing urban areas in the region. This is in agreement with UNEP (2013) that demographic change is the major driver of land-cover change: its primary and most direct impact is through opening new land for agricultural, settlement and infrastructural development, although other extractive activities such as logging and mining are also significant.

32Increased demand for cultivation land coupled with weak government institutions and policy implementation accelerated forest encroachment in the Benet area. Approximately 6,000 hectares were lost within 30 years (KDSOER 2004). The forest boundary was shifted over time upwards and downwards in 1960s, 1983 and 1993 (Dirkse 2008). The communities refer to the boundaries as white line for 1983 and red line for the 1993 line. The government surveyors re-demarcated the forest boundary without much participation of the local communities (Fresco et al., 1996). Boundary surveying over the years has, however, produced conflicting results. The boundary survey carried out from 1993-2002 found out that, in some areas, land already accepted by both the park and the community as lying outside the boundary was in fact within the gazetted park area. This accentuated the conflict with the community who considered the land to be theirs (Onyango 1996). Until recently, the communities felt that the government should have adopted the 1983 line since the 1993 boundary line is far up. The shift in the boundary line has led to degradation of the forest in the catchment. This confirms the argument by Geist and Lambin (2002) that forest degradation is largely caused by human activities.

Conclusion

33The studies undertaken revealed significant spatial and temporal variation in land use and cover changes in the Atari catchment between 1973 and 2010. The prominent changes included conversion ofthe natural forest cover. The changes have wide implications including reduction in a healthy ecosystem, increased run off and evapotranspiration. Prominent land use changes observed were conversion of forest to agricultural land use largely dominated by the growing of annual cereal crops (maize and wheat) and short term marketable crops (horticultural crops) on smallholder farms. The main driving forces of land use change in the Atari upper catchment were largely population increase and weak government institutions. Historical trend analysis revealed these factors operated interactively in space and time. Findings on drivers are important for decision making in addressing forest encroachment and land degradation on Mt Elgon and related environments. Efforts to strengthen institutions in implementation of government policies at local level are very pertinent. Population increase needs to be checked through innovative socially acceptable control practices in order to enhance sustainable use of the fragile Mt Elgon ecosytem.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 22. Location of Atari catchment in Mt Elgon, Uganda
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1238/img-1.jpg
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Titre Table 10. Data type and year of production of the Landsat image
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Titre Table 11. Selected study villages in the area
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Titre Figure 23. Land use and cover for the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984, 2010
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Titre Table 12. Area occupied by different land use and cover in the Atari catchment in 1973, 1984 and 2010
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Titre Figure 24. Area change between 1973 and 2010
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Titre Figure 25. Population increase for the Kapchorwa district from 1980- 2010, Atari catchment (Kaptanya Sub County) between 1991 to 2011 (UBOS 2002)
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Titre Figure 26. Size of land cultivated by farmers in the Atari catchment
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Titre Figure 27. Trend in the price of maize since 1986
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1238/img-9.jpg
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Titre Table 13. Types of fertilizers applied in the Atari catchment
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1238/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 13k

Auteurs

Mountain Resource Centre, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala (Uganda), clarenantumbwe@gmail.com
She works on Land Use Change especially in Mont Elgon.

Prof., Department of Agricultural Production, School of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, tenywamakooma@yahoo.com

© Africae, 2016

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