Water and environment security for socioeconomic transformation in Uganda

Mar 22, 2021
Water and environment security for socioeconomic transformation in Uganda
Joint Program research scientist Kenneth Strzepek delivers keynote presentation at Uganda Water & Environment Week 2021 conference

Delivering the keynote presentation of the Uganda Water & Environment Week 2021 conference from Colorado via Zoom on March 21, MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change research scientist Kenneth Strzepek outlined a pathway by which Uganda can achieve sustainable economic growth.

“Can Uganda go from preindustrial to postindustrial, to middle income, without seeing a rapid degradation of the environment?” said Strzepek following remarks by the nation’s prime minister. “I argue that it can.”

To show that investment in environmental protection and water stewardship increases rather than slows down economic growth, he cited three findings from his own research:

  1. If Uganda invests in measures to enhance its water supply—including wetland, forest and catchment management—the nation’s GDP can increase by 9 percent by 2040;  
  2. Over the next 20 years, enhanced investment in flood control could bring about a return of almost 10:1 on that investment; and
  3. Increased investment in a sustainable, water-secure future for the greater Kampala metropolitan area will lead to about a 4.2% rise in GDP per year over the next 20 years.

Strzepek emphasized that government must play a key role in providing physical and institutional infrastructure to enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth. To provide a framework and tools to advance that objective, he recommended that Uganda develop an integrated water and environmental investment plan.

View presentation here (starts at 10:00).

Related keynote address on Transboundary Water Governance and Regional Economic Cooperation at the 6th Nile Basin Development Forum (NBDF): View presentation here (starts at 5:48)

Photo: Uganda’s Lake Bunyoni (Source: Flickr/Mer)