Adapting to a Changing Environment

Musambwa Islands Joint Conservation Organisation (MIJCO)

Entry Overview

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
PO Box 5212
Population Impacted: 
About 100

6 hectares

Major Occupations: 
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose: 
The main source of livelihood is fishing. Fish is the main resource that sustains people on this small Island. The Island is also the only breeding ground for over 30 bird species, with the dominant one being the migratory grey headed sea gull (Larus cirr
Local threats to resources: 
Over fishing and poor fishing methods threaten the fish resources. The Island is about 20 kilometers from the Island and because of its rich fishing grounds, many people are interested in joining the fishing community to undertake fishing, which would fur
Climate Hazards: 
In the middle of Lake Victoria, the Island is prone to global warming. The winds on the Lake are becoming more and more unpredictable and the temperatures also increasing. There are prolonged droughts which affect the water levels of the Lake that in turn impacts on the fish catch and tree growth that in turn affects fish processing.
Level of exposure to these hazards: 
Highly exposed that?s to say, they affect the water levels and the fish population
Level of sensitivity: 
They will cause reduction in fish production and this in turn will affect the incomes of the fishing community.
Level of adaptive capacity: 
They adoptability level is low. They lack the technology and alternative copying mechanisms. The only option may be to relocate from the Island to the main land.
Describe Your Solution: 

1. Diversified or alternative livelihoods ? Working with our partners, we have developed a 10 year management plan that highlights what we intend to do on the Island to diversity our livelihood sources. The Island boasts of a number of reptiles that we have, because of our cultural beliefs have managed to live harmoniously with. We have decided to share this unique experience to nature loving tourists so that we can realize more incomes from tourist?s fees and guiding services. 2. Improved food security ? We have understood the importance of birds in sustained fishing. Residents used to eat eggs of these breeding birds, but with the understanding that the birds play a big role in the fishing industry and because our cultural norms respect the snakes that live on the islands as a manifestation of our gods, we realized that it was taboo to eat these eggs and this has boosted our fishing from the water. 3. Improved hazard risk management ? Residents of the Island have been sensitized about the importance of having a clean environment and the need to ensure that we do not introduce new species or endanger the ones that are already there. We have therefore devised mechanisms to reduce the waste that is produced on the Island, by avoiding to bring to the Island non-biodegradable waste such as polythene papers, and fish nettings. We also promoted proper disposal of the waste that is generated on the islands through composting and using the compost so generated to produce manure for our vegetable gardens. 4. Improved use of water resources or other natural ecosystem services ? through emphasizing the importance of the relationship or linkage between the people and their natural world, residents at Musambwa Island have reverence for the natural resources on the Island. The people have rallied all their support to sustainable natural resources use through their cultural values. They have written down the cultural guidelines that assist residents of the Island to live in harmony. They revere the Mukokowe tree as a scared tree, the believe that their gods manifest in form of reptiles such as snakes and other insects. They have stopped consuming eggs of birds and it is believed that these are foods for the snakes that are believed to be their gods.

Ecological Costs: 
-possible over population of birds on the island and destroying vegetation
Ecological Benefit: 
The species of birds and snakes will be conserved. Protection of the rear snake and bird species
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

More birds and snake species. Population of birds.

Community/Social Cost: 
- Refusal of access rights to the island
Community/Social Benefit: 
Protection of the island from intrusion and destruction. Will attract tourists hence incomes realized Health will be improved due to continued sensitisation of the community on sanitation hygiene.
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit: 
Maintained or reduced human population. Number of tourists. Improved health. Improved hygiene
Economic Cost: 

-fore-gone opportunities to maximise fishing outputs

Economic Benefit: 

Better fishing methods will ensure continuous fishing activity due to the fact that fish will be conserved. Tourist attraction will enhanced hence increase in incomes. f

Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Better fishing methods realized. Rate of tourist turn up.

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

The island population keeps changing over time. New members keep coming in while old ones leave. The ones that are sensitized today, after sometime you have to start all over again. We put the agreed guidelines in writing in partnership with the district administration. We also engaged with the cultural leaders who are permanent residents

Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

? Include any assessments that were completed (e.g. socio-economic, ecological, threat, and/or vulnerability assessments) ? Include information on how the most vulnerable stakeholder groups in the community were included the decision making process. We undertook a cultural assessment of the Island residents. We consulted elders and cultural leaders about the socio-economic history of the Island. We held sensitization meetings to understand how to live on the Island. ? Include partners/organizations who were involved in supporting the solution and their roles. Nature Uganda is a national non-governmental conservation organisation. It is interested in birds. They taught us the ecology of birds and their relationship with the fish. They informed us about the migratory nature of the sea gulls and how our Island is the only breeding site of these birds in Africa. Fauna and Flora International, enlightened us about the importance of our cultural values and how we can use these values to improve our relations with nature and our environment on the Island The district local government of Rakai gave is political support and provided policy guidance. ? Length of implementation. It is over five years now since we begun efforts to conserve our environment on the Island ? Include current management systems used to support the solution. Our current management system is community-based and hinges on our cultural values. The cultural values determine our practices and behavior and this has helped us to ensure individual compliance to management plans that are agreed to.

Climate hazard of concern: 
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

By sensitizing the island occupants on the cultural values conservation approaches in order to conserve the island and its different species, that, the birds, snakes and all the ecosystems on the island, this shields them from any further destruction and exposure.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the ecosystem affected?: 


How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?: 

Through sensitization of the local population on the need to conserve the values and norms of the island which encourage among others the protection of the breeding grounds of the birds and snakes on the island. This, in turn keeps the ecosystem services in steady supply ensuring sustainable fishing for the Island residents.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

By encouraging the local population to develop the tourism industry at the island and sensitizing them on protecting the tourist attraction sites around.

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

Understanding and appreciating the linkage between the people and their natural resources, is a basis for garnering their support to ensure the resources are sustainably used. Encouraging the local population to venture in to other productive areas like tourist attraction development and promoting better fishing methods will address the potential negative changes.

Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?: 

It can be replicated where the linkage between the people and their natural world is still strong. Factors: There should be patience while listening to the people to state what they want and not what conservationists want. Good feasibility studies to establish the need. The solution has been implemented in other sites like Kanungu,Semulik and Mugahinga in District Kisoro.

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