Gulu City lies within the Albert Nile and Aswa Catchments of the Upper Nile Water Management Zone. Both catchments are characterized by high vulnerability to dry spells. Changing climate conditions of recent years have led to the drying -up of the Oyitino valley dam, Oyitino 2 reservoir and the associated streams, which serve as main water source for the city. The degradation of the micro-catchment is exacerbated by increasing anthropogenic activities such as the indiscriminate disposal of solid and liquid waste, the growing number of settlements with unplanned and unauthorised constructions, the entry of pesticides and nutrients from agricultural practices and other activities such as brick making, stone quarrying, and sand mining within the Oyitino micro-catchment. This accelerating rate of catchment degradation poses a significant risk to the catchment’s capacity as provider of ecosystem services for the City’s businesses and population.
To support the restoration of Oyitino micro-catchment’s ecological state, various actors joined forces under the Gulu Integrated Catchment Management Partnership (GICMP). Partners include i.e. the Ministry of Water and Environment-Upper Nile Water Management zone (MWE), Gulu City Council (GCC), National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC), TakaTaka Plastics Ltd, CEED Uganda. Together, they aim at complementing NWSC’s efforts in implementing source protection activities, specifically for Oyitino 2 within the Oyitino micro-catchment.
Recently, they have developed and validated the Oyitino micro-catchment Water Source Protection Implementation Plan (WSPIP). The WSPIP identifies interventions that are needed to mitigate existing and future risks to the water source and improve its long-term resilience. The activities are categorized under three packages:
(1) natural-ecological restoration (hardware and soft activities) such as stabilizing banks with elephant grass and sensitisation of micro-catchment users for responsible behaviour within the catchment,
(2) alternative livelihood options which do not harm the environment such as bee-keeping and fish farming, and
(3) capacity strengthening of the Oyitino 1 and Oyitino 2 Water Source Protection Coordination Committee (WSPC), which will continuously monitor and spearhead sustainable management of the micro-catchment based on the WSPI.
Moreover, the plan provides a roadmap to coordinate partner actions and serves to leverage government and private investments, among other things.