Legal Recognition of Women’s Role in Combating Desertification in Africa: The Case for Uganda

  • Charlotte KabasekeEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Environmental degradation is fast becoming a world wide problem as a result of desertification, especially in the face of climate change. The African continent is specifically susceptible to desertification because of its low adaptive capacity to climate change. Uganda is no exception. Women have been noted to be more affected in the face of desertification because of their socially constructed roles which require them to rely on natural resources. Because of their experience dealing with natural resources, women have acquired traditional knowledge on how to preserve these resources in the face of environmental changes. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) recognises women’s role in combating desertification. Against this background, this paper seeks to examine the effect of desertification on women and the role women have played in combating the same. The paper also analyses the extent to which the law at international, regional levels recognises women’s role in combating desertification and to what extent these laws have been domesticated and implemented in Uganda.


Desertification Women UNCCD Africa Uganda 


  1. Abebe MA (2014) Climate change, gender inequality and migration in East Africa. Wash J Environ Law Policy 4(1):114Google Scholar
  2. Aditya SK (2016) Role of women in environmental conservation. Int J Polit Sci Dev 4(4):140–145Google Scholar
  3. African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Adopted 27 June 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force 21 Oct 1986)Google Scholar
  4. African Union (2014) Draft African Union Strategy on Climate Change. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  5. Angelsen A (1997) The poverty—environment thesis: was Brundtland wrong? Forum Dev Stud 24(1):135–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN The Fourth World Conference on Women (1995) Accessed 25 Jan 2019
  7. Bowen DH (2015) Leveling the field for women farmers in Uganda. World Bank. Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  8. BRAC and Landesa (2017) Issue brief: land tenure as a critical consideration for climate change-related displacement in slow-onset disaster zones (Hilton Prize Coalition). Accessed 24 Jan 2019
  9. Broeckhoven N, Cliquet A (2015) Gender and ecological restoration: time to connect the dots. J Soc Ecol Restor 23(6):729–736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. CARE International (2008) Reclaiming rights and resources: women, poverty and environment. Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  11. CBD Secretariat (2012) Guidelines for mainstreaming gender into national biodiversity strategies and action plans. CBD technical series no. 49. Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  12. CEDAW Committee, CEDAW, General Recommendation No. 34 on the Rights of Rural Women (2016) UN Doc. CEDAW/C/GC/34, para. 5. Accessed 10 Feb 2019
  13. CEDAW Committee, General Recommendation No. 28, para. 31, 47th Sess. (2010) Accessed 10 Apr 2019
  14. Climate Change and Agroecological Approaches (LEISA) (2017) Low external input sustainable agriculture (India), issue no. 19.2, June 2017. Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  15. Conference of the Parties (2017) Ordos Declaration, Decision 27/COP.13 (15 September), see in particular para. 12. Accessed 10 Feb 2019
  16. Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) Adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22nd September, 1995. Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  17. Convention on Biodiversity United Nations Treaty Series, vol 1760, no 30619Google Scholar
  18. Convention on Biological Diversity (2012) NBSAPs and national reports. Accessed 1 Feb 2019
  19. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 18th, 1979Google Scholar
  20. Dankelmann I, Davison J (1988) Women and environment in the third world: alliance for future. Earthscan Publications Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Decision adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Mainstreaming gender considerations 2015–2020 gender plan of actionGoogle Scholar
  22. East African Community (2010) East African Community climate change policy. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  23. FAO (2013) Governing land for women and men: a technical guide to support the achievement of responsible gender-equitable governance of land tenure. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  24. Government of Uganda (2004) Third national report to the Conference of the Parties on the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Uganda (GoU). Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  25. Government of Uganda (2007a) National adaptation programmes of action. Accessed 27 Apr 2018
  26. Government of Uganda (2007b) Uganda vision 2040. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  27. Government of Uganda (2016) Environment and natural resources sub-sector gender mainstreaming strategy (2016–2021). Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  28. Government of Uganda (2018a) The LDN target setting programme Uganda country report. Accessed 10 Feb 2019
  29. Government of Uganda (2018b) Water and environment sector performance report 2018 (Ministry of Water and Environment). Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  30. Hori Y, Stuhlberger C, Simonett O (2011) Desertification: a visual synthesis. UNCCD and Zoe Environment NetworkGoogle Scholar
  31. Hyma B, Nyamwange P (1993) Women’s role and participation in farm and community tree-growing activities in Kiambu District, Kenya. In: Momsen JH, Kinnaird V (eds) Different places, different voices: gender and development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Routledge, London and New York, pp 30–45Google Scholar
  32. ICCD/COP(11)/23, 1 Nov 2013. Available at Accessed 26 Jan 2019
  33. ICCD/COP(13)/8-ICCD/CRIC(16)/2, 21 June 2017. Accessed 27 Jan 2019
  34. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into force 23 March 1976Google Scholar
  35. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 entry into force 3 January 1976Google Scholar
  36. International Labour Organization (2016) Women at work: trends 2016. Geneva. Accessed 24 Jan 2018
  37. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: impact, adaptation, and vulnerability. Summary for policymakers. A report of working group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  38. Jiggins J (1994) Changing the boundaries: women-centered perspectives on population and the environment. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  39. Kelkar G (2009) Adivasi women: engaging with climate change. UNIFEM. Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  40. Kirk G, Okazawa-Rey M (eds) (1998) Women’s lives: multicultural perspectives. Mayfield Publishing Co., Mountain View, CAGoogle Scholar
  41. Lanyero F (2012) Flirting with desertification. Daily Monitor Newspaper Online. Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  42. Lau WKM, Wu HT, Kim KM (2013) A canonical response of precipitation characteristics to global warming from CMIP five models. Geophys Res Lett 40(12) 3163–3169Google Scholar
  43. Levitt JI (2015) Black women and international law: deliberate interactions, movements and actions. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  44. Mburia R (2015) Africa climate change policy: an adaptation and development challenge in a dangerous world. Climate Emergency Institute. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  45. Melchoir S (1989) Woman and sanitation or counting tomatoes as well as pumps. PROWWESS/UNDP technical series. UNDP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Module 9 (B series), mainstreaming gender considerations in the development and implementation of biodiversity strategies and action plans. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  47. Mor T (2018) Towards a gender-responsive implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. 2018 research paper. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Accessed 24 Jan 2019
  48. National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) (2014) State of the environment report for Uganda 2014. NEMA, KampalaGoogle Scholar
  49. National Water Policy (Uganda) (1999) Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  50. Poulsen L (2003) COP 6 and the promotion of women. IUCN. Accessed 20 Apr 2019
  51. Prior T, Duyck S, Heinämäki L, Koivurova T, Stępień A (2013) Addressing climate vulnerability: promoting the participatory rights of indigenous peoples and women through Finnish Foreign Policy. Juridica Lapponica 38Google Scholar
  52. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of Women in Africa (2003) Adopted by the African Union on July 11, 2003 and entered into force on November 25, 2005Google Scholar
  53. Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity. Guidelines for mainstreaming gender into national biodiversity strategies and action plans. CBD technical series no. 49. Accessed 10 Feb 2018
  54. Skinner E (2011) Gender and climate change overview report. BRIDGE cutting edge pack on gender and climate change. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton. Accessed 13 Feb 2019
  55. Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, U.N. Doc. A/Conf. 48/14/Rev. 1 (1973)Google Scholar
  56. The National Environment Management Policy (Uganda) (1994). Available at Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  57. The National Environment Management Act no. 5 of 2019 (Uganda)Google Scholar
  58. The Ratification of Treaties Act, Chapter 204 Laws of Uganda 2000Google Scholar
  59. Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. A/RES/70/1. Available at: Accessed 25 Jan 2019
  60. UN (2005) Women and water (UN). Accessed 8 Feb 2019
  61. UNCCD (n.d.a) Gender and desertification. UNCCD thematic fact sheet series no. 4. Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  62. UNCCD (n.d.b) UNCCD, CBD and UNFCCC Joint Liaison Group. Accessed 7 Feb 2019
  63. UNCCD (2017) UNCCD convention (2017). Accessed 14 Apr 2019
  64. UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/XII/7, 17 Oct 2014. Accessed 1 Feb 2019
  65. United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) (1993) G.A. Res. 188, U.N. GAOR, 47th Sess., Agenda Item 79, U.N. Doc. A/RES/47/188Google Scholar
  66. United Nations (2012) Millennium development goals report, 2012. UN, New York. Available at Accessed 6 Feb 2019
  67. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and or desertification particularly in Africa. Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  68. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1992) Accessed 15 Apr 2019
  69. WGC (2017) Welcome letter to new members, 16 July (on file with Landesa); Women and Gender Constituency. About us. Accessed 31 Jan 2019
  70. WHO (1984) Biomass, fuel combustion and health. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Environmental Law, School of LawResearch Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations