Victoria Namalikye is better known in her community as “Mama Beehive”. With a broad smile and obvious pride she asserts, “I am famous with the bees. They know me.”
Victoria is a beekeeper and mother of 7 in Eastern Uganda; she is an inspiring example of how entrepreneurial activity can play a vital role in improving lives and conserving the environment. “For me I have benefitted from beekeeping by being able to educate my children.”
In the mountains of Eastern Uganda, beekeeping is alleviating stress on the natural environment by providing an alternative livelihood option. Profits from Victoria’s new honey sales are paying for her children’s school fees and uniforms, securing a firm investment in a better life for the next generation.
Her eldest son’s pride in his mother’s industriousness is evident: “Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda. All of our solutions can be found in growing and producing more sustainably”, says Wozisi. His point also highlights the importance of agro-ecological enterprise in helping mountain communities in Uganda adapt to climate change.
Uganda faces several climate change-related challenges to its livelihood and development. Increasing temperatures are affecting crop production, and more intense rainfall is contributing to landslides and flooding in mountain regions, impacting food security and economic development.
Deforestation of mountain slopes and loss of vegetation along river banks are combining with intense rainfall to cause erosion and loss of topsoil.
But sustainably managed agriculture, incorporating modern beekeeping, tree planting, increased forage coverage, and raising yields on existing lands, can alleviate these pressures.
Agro-forestry activities serve both ecological and economic purposes for this community. These sustainable practices render otherwise precarious lands as productive and integrated into a healthy ecosystem – the basis for Mama Beehive’s children’s future. Beekeeping is one of these activities, utilising nature on a sustainable basis to produce honey for sale. This helps communities, whose livelihoods may be threatened by climate change, to diversify their income and spread their risk.
With support from the Mountain Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) Programme, the Masaba Integrated Beekeeping Organisation received 143 beehives, as well as practical trainings in making beehives, and in the siting of hives and harvesting of honey.
The bees are not only providing honey - with the community planting flowers and trees to attract the bees and enhance their productivity, their presence is also encouraging better natural resource management through revegetating and stabilizing degraded river banks.
Since the beehives are strategically located amongst the woodlots along the river banks, their presence, and the community’s aversion to getting stung by them, is also preventing erosion of the banks and positively impacting on the cleanliness of the water.
“Beekeeping is crucially important for agricultural well-being; for it represents and symbolizes the natural biological interdependence that comes from insects, pollination and production of seed in addition to helping people to strengthen livelihoods and ensuring maintenance of habitats and biodiversity.” National Programme Coordinator, Mr. Paul Nteza.
By promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially, culturally, and environmentally appropriate, the Mountain EbA Programme has enhanced social and economic resilience for communities affected by climate change.