Co-Developed Options for Sustainable, Resilient Systems

Lead Organization:

National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NaFORRI)

Partner Organizations:

Bugobero SLM Association, Namuninge Watershed Association, Bunanganda-Bukhaweka Agroecological Farmers Association, Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, district forest offices, district natural resources officer, ministry of water and environment office at each eastern Uganda district, Ministry of Agriculture animal industry and fisheries, primary schools in project area, and national forestry authority

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






Steep hills, deep valleys, and rivers characterize Mount Elgon ecosystem in eastern Uganda. Severe deforestation and land degradation stemming from high human population and poor farming practices have led to significant negative effects on regional food security (Galabuzi et al., 2017). Eastern Uganda has the country’s highest population density of between 400 to 800 people per square kilometer and a population growth rate of 3.4 percent per year (UBOS, 2014). In the last eight years, more than 5,000 people have died as a result of landslides, which are common (UBOS, 2022). Communities experience frequent episodes of food insecurity, and demand for forestry and allied tree resources continues to escalate. Upwards of 95 percent of households use tree biomass for their cooking (MWE, 2018), with far-reaching negative consequences on landscape tree cover. Tree products and services remain critically inadequate. 

The region supports intensive mixed agriculture, classified as the coffee-banana farming system, on widely fragmented landholdings of 1/4 to 2 acres. Coffee is commonly grown in combination with multipurpose trees, while stream valleys are often planted with eucalyptus trees. Food crops include maize, groundnuts, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans , Irish potatoes, and plantain (Knapen et al., 2006; Nakakaawa et al., 2015). The local population is highly dependent on agriculture and natural resources for economic growth and livelihoods

Previous interventions focused mainly at household level, particularly farming households owning 1 to 2 acres of land on average. Interventions included hilltop tree planting by Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF), agroforestry interventions for food security enhancement by World Agroforestry (Muthuri et al., 2017), one million tree planting initiative by Mount Elgon Tree Growers Enterprises (METGE), Mbale Coalition Against Poverty (CAP), and sustainable land management by NaFORRI, among others. More effort is required at landscape scale with multiple stakeholders.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to expand on earlier established soil conservation structures and strengthen community participation in sustaining co-developed interventions for medium- and long-term understanding of effectiveness in reducing runoff reduction, nutrient loss, increased crop yield, increased tree cover, and diversity. Soil conservation structures expanded and established in three watersheds (Bugobero, Bukhaweka, and Bubutu) in eastern Uganda.

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • Build the capacity of farmers in the target watersheds to use results from their own research and measurements to influence the local leadership and other neighboring farming communities.
  • Increase adoption of agroecological options for increased crop yields, reduced erosion, increased tree cover, and a food-secure, environmentally healthy landscape.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Tree nurseries of assorted species established; adequate tree seedlings produced for landscape tree diversification 
  • Farmers trained on soil nutrient status analysis in soil conservation interventions
  • Innovations that ensure circular food systems of priority food value chains (e.g. recycling of nutrients at farm level) co-developed
  • Nature-based options for improving farm productivity and ecosystem resilience using group approaches (e.g. FFSs and co-learning resource centers) established 
  • Monitoring points (households and farms) for long-term impacts of soil conservation interventions in three watersheds mapped
  • Short-, medium-, and long-term data (biophysical, socioeconomic, ecological) in established soil conservation interventions for Bugobero, Bukhaweka, and Bubutu watersheds
  • Periodic knowledge-sharing events (field days, farm clinics, exchange visits, etc.)
  • Functional community level and inclusive multi-stakeholder co-learning resource centers
  • Four scientific papers produced 


  • Increased number of farming households participating in soil conservation measures at landscape scale in eastern Uganda
  • Improved soil fertility in participating watersheds
  • Increased crop yields
  • Increased soil productivity
  • Reduced soil erosion 
  • Increased capacity of farming households to measure and record soil conservation data
  • Improved water quality
  • Increased tree cover and tree diversity