Perceived and Actual Rainfall Trends and Variability in Eastern Uganda: Implications for Community Preparedness and Response

Monica K. Kansiime, Stephen K. Wambugu, Chris A. Shisanya


This study assessed the extent of rainfall trends and variability in Eastern Uganda and implications for community preparedness and response. Regional and national climate studies have been generalized over large scales and thus are insufficient in capturing variability at local level where management actions occur. This study used both observational rainfall data for the period 1971 to 2010 and primary data on communities’ perceptions of changes in rainfall. The study was conducted in three distinct agro-ecologies covering highland, low land and floodplains. Trends analysis was done using Regression method, while Coefficient of Variation and ANOVA techniques were used to analyze variability. Rainfall satisfaction index was used to assess farmers’ perceptions. The results show statistically significant increasing trends (P ? 0.05) in annual and seasonal rainfall for highland areas, and negative, but non-significant trends for low lying areas. Analysis of Variance shows significant within and between season variations for L. Victoria and less significant variations for Mt. Elgon and SE L. Kyoga agro-ecologies. However, Mt. Elgon exhibits a very high coefficient of variation for ASON (CV > 30%), indicating high rainfall variability.  Over 90% of the interviewed farming communities perceived change in rainfall pattern, dating as far back as 10 to 15 years. The rainfall subjective index of 0.19 was obtained, which indicates that the rainfall situation for the base year of this study was undesirable. Adaptation to the observed variability may include; development of early warning systems based on a combination of meteorological data and communities’ knowledge, adoption of crops adapted to water logging or stress conditions for the different seasons and agro-ecologies, and local institutional preparedness to anticipate and manage the climate variability induced risks.

Key words: Rainfall Variability, Rainfall Trends, Farmers’ Perceptions, Eastern Uganda.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3186 ISSN (Online)2225-0921

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