This paper explores the effects of climate variability on local communities living within and around Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), their coping mechanisms, and challenges encountered. Data was collected from 250 respondents through questionnaires administered to small holder farmers, salt miners, and fisher folks, as well as in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) held with selected households in Katunguru, Lake Katwe, Kasenyi, and Kahokya parishes in and around the park. The results indicated that climate variability affects all households through long dry spells (drought), increased intensity of rain and occurrence of water related diseases. This resulted in decline in economic output in the context of reduced food availability, household incomes, and poor health of the household members. The results further showed that although diversification of livelihood activities was uniform, the coping mechanisms were heterogeneous across the three economic sectors. While the agricultural households engaged in agricultural intensification, fisher folks changed their fishing technologies, and salt miners drained their flooded saltpans. According to the findings of this study, the effects of climate variability were widespread across all households in and around the park. The study recommends that rural households be supported in a variety of activities in order to build capacity.
Key words: Climate variability, effects, coping strategies, challenges, rural households, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.
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