Watersheds worldwide provide crucial ecosystem services, such as the regulation of water and climate, and the provision of food and raw materials. However, watersheds are increasingly under threat of degradation and over-exploitation of their natural resources. This project focuses on the Manafwa watershed in Eastern Uganda, which forms part of the Mount Elgon National Park, and is impacted by increasingly frequent floods,…
landslides, shrinking forest reserves, soil degradation and droughts. The urgency to conserve and restore the watershed’s ecosystem services and establish resilient farming systems for sustainable local food production is huge. To tackle this challenge, mobilizing the local population is key: from farmers to policymakers. This requires a bottom-up participatory approach, in which generating intrinsic motivation, commitment and collaboration to invest in the watershed are crucial. The PIP approach has proven to do exactly that in a similar setting in Burundi: it profoundly motivates farmers to transform their reality by conscious collective action, mainly by vision and capacity building to plan for a more sustainable future. The goal of “The MWARES” is to restore resilience and stimulate stewardship of the Manafwa watershed; the PIP approach is its core cross-cutting strategy. During 4 years the project consortium (WENR, Wageningen University and 4 Ugandan partners) will work on resilient farming systems, environmental education, landscape restoration and enhanced collaboration to protect the National Park. Research at PhD level will strengthen the lessons learned, while state-of-the-art innovations will be integrated into the project to foster the required change towards resilience and stewardship of the Manafwa watershed.
Resilience-based stewardship of the Manafwa watershed implies actions throughout the entire watershed and with all stakeholders.
Our goal is “to restore resilience and stimulate stewardship of the Manafwa watershed”. Crucial here are the terms resilience and stewardship. Resilience is the ability of the watershed to continue providing its ecosystem services even under shocks (e.g. due to extreme weather events) and stress (e.g. human-induced erosion or soil fertility loss).