Climate Witness: Muhindo Emilda, Uganda

“The long rains are the worst for us – we call it diseases season”

My name is Muhindo Emilda. I am 30 years old and I have lived in Kayanja/ Katwe village in Kasese district of Uganda my whole life.

I am a small scale farmer in Kayanja/Katwe area. I have worked on my farm for 20 years now and I plant maize, sunflower, peanuts, cassava and beans. I work with my family on the farm as it the only means of livelihood we have here.

I have noticed changes over the last 20 years I have worked on the farm. My family too has observed the changes and we talk about it. We have kept records of what we harvest in the farm and year in, year out we get less yield. This season we saw the worst as all the plants dried in the farm.

Cholera, dysentery, stomach problems and coughing

We used to get long rains in by August, but it has changed now to October, while the short rains that we expect in April have changed to May. The long rains are the worst for us as we call it diseases season. We have seen diseases like cholera, dysentery, stomach problems and coughing, which claim a lot of children. The short rains come with less rain than before and it only serves to spoil the farms.

We have noticed other changes in the weather. For instance, we now get warm periods unlike before. This has resulted in an increase in mosquitoes in the area, causing higher incidences malaria. Wild animals are attacking us and we clash at community water points because the forest areas are getting drier very fast.

Loss of livelihood

The consequences are loss of harvest, loss of livelihood and conflict between us and wild animals and diseases. It has changed the way I live as my husband has moved to urban area in search of job. But I still plant the farm hoping one day things will change and we will get bumper harvest like before.

The government should step in and assist us to resolve the situation and plant trees in our region of Kasese. They should educate us on the changing climate otherwise we will remain dark and continue to suffer. We need to develop alternative livelihoods so that we can continue surviving without suffering from the changes that affected our farms.

I try to adapt to changes by storing grains in a granary. I store them using ashes that stop pest and maintain its freshness. It can stay for two years.