Climate Change: Gulu Going Green in Preparation for City Status

By: Aliker David Martin

Last Week, ed Gulu Municipal started the process of integrating its Green City Action Plan into its Development Plan. Gulu is a town of approximately 152,276(Census,2014) people.

Gulu is experiencing a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.82%(World Bank,2015) with possible serious implications.

By 2050, its estimated that half of its population will live in urban areas.The population growth rate for Gulu town is approximately 5.2% per annum. Service coverage is currently about 70%. (National Water and Sewerage Corporation Website, 2015)

This brings along challenges that include inadequate water and energy infrastructures, liquid and solid waste management, air and water pollution as well as unsustainable production and consumption lifestyles.

Does it then surprise you that Gulu has been on the national news making the first by-law against alcohol consumption in sachets; as of last year Gulu was again in the news for stoping massive charcoal burning and trade yet it’s the major source of energy for cooking in most households.

A few days ago, residence of Gulu were again in the news for a public planned protest to Umeme, a power supply company over the power shut down which is affecting most businesses until its leadership prevailed over Umeme management to account for what is happening and promised improvements.

Lately, hotel owners are now ferrying water in Jerrycans for their customers because National Water and sewerage Corporation (NWSC) cannot meet its demands.


So what does Greening Gulu mean to its residence? And how can it help Gulu realize its new vision?

Gulu Municipality through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) in partnership with Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) are piloting the green growth model of development to develop the Gulu Green Growth Action Plan (GGGAP)  to integrate green growth in its Strategic Development Plan(SDP)

This will include mainstreaming climate adaptation and mitigation strategies into all aspects of the municipal policies, planning and projects; and incorporating policies to help implement the municipal’s plans for high-density urban development into all sectors and to integrate social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects into housing policies.

It will also include implementing a transport system that favors public transit, walking and cycling; devising Municipal policies to support the national building code’s new resource efficiency measures and adopting an integrated, proactive flood management approach.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded on the belief that economic growth and environmental sustainability are not merely compatible objectives; their integration is essential for the future of humankind. GGGI works with partners in the public and private sector in developing countries around the world to put green growth at the heart of economic planning.

GGGI intends to invest in Gulu as a development partner in designing urban policy and incorporate green growth in its Strategic Development Plan.

Gulu Municipal’s new Vision, that is  yet to be adopted is “A Transformed, Industrial, Hospitable and Sustainable City  of northern Uganda. In the aftermath of the two decade conflict Gulu now seeks to be a state of the art  green; appealing and hospital city of northern Uganda.

According to the Mayor  George Labeja,”This is a cause, I will pursue to the end and if needs be I will accept to pay the political prize to realize this dream.”

If Gulu is to realize this new vision then this is what greening Gulu will mean to its residence:

Gulu Municipal will have to adopt the use of green products which is currently growing in acceptance.This will include recycling packaging materials. Uganda just abolished the use of polytene packaging bags.

Whereas its a huge undertaking; renewable energies such as Solar and Geothermal is even more commendable for small economies like Gulu.

Apparently, grid power by Umeme, is the least any serious business person can rely on for its sustainability. Even small bars are resorting to geothermal power for its sustainability and more offices and households are resorting to Solar energy.

Gulu will have to embark on a serious tree planting program to replace trees cut down for charcoal business.Already civil society organizations like Ceed is championing this cause in Gulu.

On 1st April, Ceed is organizing a marathon race to create awareness on the dangers of deforestation and planting more trees in Schools. Ceed is challenging our awareness of the role of each individual action as a potential potent force towards asphyxiating climate change epidemic by being part of a new green movement seeking an echo friendly and sustainable environment.

The Municipal authorities will have to stick to their decongestion plan through enforcement of initiatives such as public transport policy and its Municipal(city) Master plan which are premised on managing traffic and housing in a rapidly urbanism growing Municipal(City).

Already, this is taking place, a number of houses have been marked to be destroyed to meet Municipal standard and all boda boda riders have to belong to an agreed stage and know where to park.Real estate developers will be encouraged in a private public partnership to improve the level and quality of housing in Gulu to meet the increasing demand for housing.

Therefore, how does Greening Gulu enable it realize its new vision? During the war, Gulu was the least place one would want to find himself. Currently, Gulu is rebranding itself for national development and it offers the best prospects for post conflict development. That is why more than 10 banks have been established in Gulu in the last 10 years.

The green growth development model will lead to Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability.

Gulu’s Economic Growth can be realized from increased access to markets and increase in production. Improved productivity will lead to food security and income from local economic development activities. Its inclusive nature reduces poverty levels and improves the welfare of those in the informal sector as much as those in the formal sector.

Green growth will boost investor confidence through greater predictability in how governments deal with major environmental issues hence increased job opportunities which lead to increased house hold incomes. Increase in house hold incomes lead to improved standard of living of the community.

Green growth will stimulate demands for green goods, services and technologies in Gulu hence increasing access to markets, employment rates and local economic development. The municipal will be able to realize more taxes from this local economic activities.

There is a tight and complex link between development, environment and poverty(Broad 1994,Reardon and Vosti 1995,Blaikie 1995).The poor often endure degraded environments, and in some instance contribute to their further degradation.

Therefore, Green growth will enhance productivity by creating incentives for greater efficiency in the use of natural resources, reducing waste and energy consumption, unlocking opportunities for innovation and value creation, and allocating resources to the highest value use.

Improved environmental management is needed to tackle resource scarcities and climate change. This has boosted job opportunities and incomes through increased investments in green technologies

Conclusively, in the words of former American President Barack Obama,”Climate Change is no longer some far off problem; it’s happening here, it’s happening now.In the face of its adversity, the future generation will judge us by our actions today.

Aware that Gulu Municipal may not even have the necessary knowledge and skills, at least our leaders have made a choice to be proactive and planned for it to guide their future vision of Gulu city.

The author is a former Mayoral aspirant for Gulu Municipality.


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