Assessing the Impact of Crop growing on Wetland Values, Services, Functions and Goods: A Case of Nakivubo Wetland Kampala District, Uganda
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- Institutt for geografi 
For a country to develop, it requires a well and fully employed populace to earn income and carter for their basic needs and hence achieve a better standard of living. It is a global concern to protect and conserve vital natural resources to avoid repercussions from not doing so like climate change. But if communities are not economically empowered, they seem a threat to these green belts putting their existence and natural function in jeopardy. The main purpose of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of how crop cultivation is affecting the values, services, functions and goods provided by Nakivubo wetland to the immediate communities. It was undertaken to find out whether this vital resource in an urban setting is only endangered by crop growing. Hence the concern to identifying the underlying factors to continued un-wise use of the resource. The study followed a qualitative research design and the population of interest were the farmers cultivating in this wetland and other persons undertaking other livelihoods and various activities. Several key informants from the environmental management agencies as well as local council officials contributed to this study. Data were gathered through questionnaire, self administered questionnaire, interview guide, mapping, photography and direct observation. Political ecology theory was used to inform and guide the study. To understand the varying power relations, struggles and conflicts over wetland resource use and the available management drives better amongst all the concerned stakeholders. Data were analyzed, by transcribing, coding, grouped and regrouped and were presented using some direct quotes from the research participants. The major finding of the study was that the farmers are encroaching on this vital resource because they do not have satisfying alternative livelihoods and that this is their long lived livelihood. There has been a continuous position change of the crop growing activity from the slopes to the wetland fringes and now the interior. Influencing factors to the change were found out to be; increased urbanisation, population explosion, wide spread unemployment and under-employment and abject poverty. Areas on the slopes and wetland fringes have been taken up by other livelihoods, housing establishments (residential, commercial and industrial). This settlement is being spearheaded by some local council and other Government officials by leasing off land to the developers. The farmers were found out to have free and easy access to the wetland area allocating and selling plots to each other easily. Inadequate enforcement of the laws protecting the wetland has made it possible for people to go to the far interior. The environment managers and farmers revealed that crop growing has disastrous effects on the wetland vegetation and hence it’s natural function (like purification of flood waste water; containing runoffs, sewage and other effluents from the city before it gets into Lake Victoria). Continuity of crop growing by the farmers in the wetland interior is not a simple task because of its fragile nature and current level of pollution. It was observed that there is over use of the resource (estimated 80% of the wetland is currently dominated by crop growing). Besides crop growing, the other livelihood activities taking place in the wetland included; fishing and fish farming, brick production, sand, gravel and clay collection, harvesting of wetland products, and grazing of animals. Sewage collection ponds and disposal was also taking place. Various housing development initiatives are also taking place on the fringes and drained parts. Opening up of the natural vegetation and human presence has endangered flora and fauna. There are awareness raising campaigns and enforcing of the available wetland, policy - management laws (use-guidelines and regulations) among others. Despite the endeavours by the authorities to protect the resource, the laws are defied by the encroachers to continue earning a living from livelihoods and establishing housing structures for commercial, residential and industrial purposes among others. This is perpetuated by the support from some politicians, economic powerful class, some community members and capitalist enterprises. Further still, the study indicates that if the encroachers are not provided with alternative livelihood sources and land for development initiatives particularly housing, creation of a well defined and coordinated management technique amongst the concerned stakeholders, there is expected continued encroachment.