Land conversion is changing the landscape in the semi-arid Lokere and Lokok Catchments, northeastern Uganda

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Richard Osaliya
Oliver Vivian Wasonga
Jackson Gilbert Majaliwa Mwanjalolo
Geoffrey Kironchi
Adipala Ekwamu

Abstract

The Lokere and Lokok Catchments, which form the main watershed in the semiarid Karamoja sub-region of Uganda, are experiencing land use and land cover (LULC) change from extensive livestock production to crop agriculture. This paper assessed the change in LULC in the Catchments during the period 1984-2013 through unsupervised and supervised classification of satellite images using Idrisi Selva and ArcGIS 9.3 tools and ground truthing. Qualitative information was used to obtain historical account of LULC in order to identify drivers of land use and land cover change. The classified LULC were cross-compared for change detection. Results showed change in LULC driven by sedentarisation and the quest for alternative livelihoods to mobile livestock herding, as government and non-state actors move to promote crop cultivation. Key changes include conversion of woodlands and bushlands into small-scale croplands, with degradation of woodland and bushlands increasing grassland area. Grasslands, which covered the largest land area, from 43.64 percent in 1984 to 60.05 percent in 2013, was the most dominant. Small-scale farming was steadily rising from 9.67 percent area coverage in 1984 to 15.69 percent in 2013. The annual rate of increase of farmland during this period was 2.1 percent, however the highest rate of the increase was experienced between 1994 and 2003 at 4.2 percent when 514.2 km2 (37.53 percent) was converted to farmland. Loss of woodland, bushland, and degradation contributes significantly to the inherent water shortage in the Lokere and Lokok Catchments and Karamoja area in general. This has adverse impacts on communities’ livelihoods. 

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