A Beacon of Hope for Land Restoration and Climate Resilience

On World Environment Day DCA Uganda highlights efforts to stop land degradation, protect biodiversity protected and empower communities.

DCA Uganda

In commemoration of the 2024 World Environment Day, under the global theme “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience,” and the Ugandan theme “Land Restoration for Climate Resilience,” DanChurchAid (DCA) proudly highlights the transformative impact of our Environment and Energy Project.

Funded by UNHCR and co-funded by DANIDA, this initiative exemplifies DCA’s commitment to sustainable environmental practices and community empowerment in Uganda’s refugee-hosting districts.

Natural resources under stress from influx of refugees

Uganda’s refugee and host communities are heavily reliant on natural resources for cooking, building materials, and agriculture. The growing refugee population has intensified pressure on these resources, leading to environmental degradation, reduced groundwater recharge, and reduced food and nutrition security.

This scenario exacerbates gender-based violence (GBV) risks as women and children collect fuelwood, fostering tension between refugees and host communities due to competition over decreasing resources. Additionally, deforestation and delayed rains present significant challenges in refugee-hosting districts.

Green livelihoods empowering refugees, saving the environment

Since 2019, DCA Uganda, with financial support from UNHCR and DANIDA, has implemented a project to restore the environment, promote green livelihoods, and provide access to clean energy in the West Nile Region’s refugee-hosting districts and among urban refugees in Kampala.

The facts

The Environment and Energy Project aims to increase access to clean and sustainable energy in refugee settlements and host communities, as well as contribute to reducing environmental degradation and pressure on natural resources, both of which remain major challenges as refugee and host populations continue to grow. It has three main objectives

  • To restore the environment, which has been severely impacted by the influx of refugees and high demand for forest products
  • To promote green livelihood activities for both refugee and host communities through agroforestry, shea nut butter production, and beekeeping techniques
  • To introduce and promote alternative clean energy sources and fuel-efficient technologies

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This project, executed in collaboration with partners like the Raising Gabdho Foundation (RGF), Partners in Development, the Center for Holistic Transformation (PICOT), West Nile Community Action for Rural Development (WN-CARD), I CAN SOUTH SUDAN, and Youth Social Advocacy Team (YSAT), addresses these issues through several key initiatives:

DCA collaborates with local communities and stakeholders to map and restore degraded lands, promoting natural regeneration and reforestation. This effort includes both indigenous species conservation and exotic tree cultivation to ensure ecological balance and biodiversity.

Households are trained to identify and protect endangered trees, contributing to local biodiversity and providing sustainable resources for future generations. DCA’s collaborative approach ensures that landowners and communities consent to and benefit from restoration efforts, fostering local ownership and sustainability.

Additionally, DCA has also introduced agroecology and resilience design practices to restore degraded environments and enhance agricultural production, where marginalized communities have adopted agroecology as a strategy for adapting to climate change. Farmers have been trained in landscape-level agroecological / resilience design practices that promote closed cycles, healthy soils, water conservation, increased productivity, and increased biodiversity which in turn have contributed to improved food security and nutrition.

Also, the marginalized communities have been supported to engage in integrated farming systems such as agroforestry/food forests, mixed crop, and animal farming which promotes diversity of enterprises (both farm and off-farm activities), hence building the environmental and economic resilience of the communities. More still, community learning structures such as the farmer family learning and farmer field school approaches promote social cohesion, peaceful co-existence, joint decision-making, and sharing of labor.

The achievments

DCA is protecting existing woodlots and establishing new ones to reduce environmental degradation and improve sustainability.

Providing improved energy-saving stoves to 43,623 persons in the West Nile region and 150 households in Kampala in partnership with Raising Gabdho Foundation (RGF), thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from traditional cooking methods.

Over 4.8 million tree seedlings have been planted since 2019, with woodlots maintained through Cash for Work and agroforestry approaches. This effort supports timber production, carbon sequestration, biodiversity restoration, soil conservation, and biomass provision for cooking.

Promoting rice production among 362 farmers and one institution, enhancing food security, livelihoods, and employment.

Engaging landowners in benefit-sharing models where 30% of restored land benefits the community and 70% benefits individuals, including promoting carbon sequestration through tree planting and engaging local youths in restoration activities through Cash for Work, addressing unemployment, and fostering community participation.

Among the standout successes is the restoration of degraded vegetation in West Nile’s Bidibidi. refugee settlements.  Massive deforestation had left the land bare and vulnerable. However, DCA’s interventions since 2019 have led to the establishment of woodlots, such as Daudi Salim’s 30-hectare woodlot in Bidibidi Zone 2, showcasing the project’s tangible impact.

DCA collaborates with various stakeholders, including implementing partners, local government, the National Forestry Authority (NFA), and the community, to drive environmental restoration initiatives. These partnerships include coordinating seedling requests, sharing plans, and mapping operational areas as well as engaging local political and technical leaders in project monitoring and implementation.

The Future

To address the high consumption of fuelwood, DCA promotes fast-growing wood species and sustainable harvesting practices. Each household receives fast-growing tree species, reducing the need to harvest existing forests. DCA is also promoting energy-efficient stoves like fixed Lorena stoves and briquettes and continuous advocacy on climate change impacts and mitigation measures.

Environmental Performance and Sustainability

DCA’s project focuses on sustainability and long-term impact through metrics and tracking, monitoring tree survival rates, and community benefits from agroforestry and fuelwood initiatives. Increased community engagement in tree planting, economic benefits for youths, and improved nutrition and income through agroforestry are significant outcomes. However, challenges such as limited funding affect project continuity, and sustaining woodlot management requires long-term incentives.


DCA’s Environment and Energy Project represents a comprehensive approach to land restoration and climate resilience. By integrating community participation, sustainable practices, and innovative solutions, the project restores degraded lands, protects biodiversity, and empowers communities.

As we celebrate World Environment Day, we recognize the collective efforts that enhance our environment’s resilience and sustainability for future generations. DCA’s commitment to environmental restoration and community empowerment offers a beacon of hope and a model for sustainable development in refugee-hosting districts and beyond.

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