Uganda nationals: Wetland Ecologist
In Uganda, wetlands provide many important functions including supporting the agriculture sector, particularly in the context of food and security. Wetlands serve as a source of water for irrigation, watering livestock and other agricultural related activities. Over 80% of the people living adjacent to wetland areas in Uganda directly use wetland resources for their household food security needs. In addition to supporting food and water security, wetlands support income generation and employment. Of a total population of 34 million Ugandans, it is estimated that wetlands provide about 320,000 workers with direct employment and provide subsistence employment for over 2.4 million.
Wetlands have been used for agriculture for thousands of years. They provide a range of valuable ecosystem services, such as the provision of food and clean water, the retention of and recycling of nutrients. However, the value of these services is sometimes underestimated. In some areas, the drainage and reclamation of wetlands for agriculture has been widespread, but there is increasing recognition of the critical interdependencies between agriculture and healthy wetlands.
However, wetland health and resilience has of recent been compromised by poor agricultural practices in the adjacent catchments. For example, in Kabale District, in the southwestern region, 58% of wetlands have been drained for farming and other activities. Communities are searching for land in the wetlands because soils in the catchments are becoming increasingly infertile due to temperature increases and other climatic changes. As a result, the wetland ecosystems have lost their capacity to retain nutrients and store and filter water. This impacts water supply to surrounding communities, which are dependent on water from wells constructed near wetlands. In addition, the ability of these wetlands to adapt to climate change are also compromised, reducing their ability to retain silt, control floods, store and filter water, and maintain the microclimate.
Considering the rate at which wetlands are disappearing, the government of Uganda initiated the process of restoring wetlands and associated catchments with a major focus on promoting climate resilient agricultural interventions in wetland catchments, starting with the most affected areas of Eastern and South-Western Uganda. (Districts in the East include; Kaliro, Namutumba, Pallisa, Budaka, Kibuku, Butaleja, Tororo, Mbale, Bukedea and Ngora while those in the south western include; Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Rubirizi, Shema and Mitooma).
In order to contribute to addressing the above challenges, there is need to undertake a rapid assessment to generate baseline data on wetland health for all the wetlands in the above 20 districts. The information will guide project implementation, ongoing monitoring and evaluation efforts but also the planned impact evaluation of the project. The assignment will involve physical visits to the wetlands and collecting georeferenced ecological data on the wetlands using mobile-based data collection technology such as Open Data Kit (ODK).
In order to undertake this activity, UNDP Uganda in partnership with the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) wishes to contract a Wetland Ecologist to undertake this assignment. These Terms of Reference provide a general outline of the tasks. On the basis of this, the individual consultant will be expected to present a proposal on how he/she would approach the assignment.
The consultant will work under the overall technical guidance of the Director Environment Affairs and report to the Team leader, Climate Change Response and Disaster Risk Resilience at UNDP Uganda, for all contractual obligations. For delivery of the assignment, the consultant will work closely with the Principal Wetlands Officer and the Project Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist including undertaking joint field visits to the 20 target districts.