Drivers of forage availability: An integration of remote sensing and traditional ecological knowledge in Karamoja sub-region, Uganda

Low-input pastoral production systems provide up to 90 % of livestock and livestock products consumed in Uganda. However, pastoral communities are increasingly faced with the challenge of meeting their livestock needs in terms of forage, a situation exacerbated by climatic variability. The study identified the patterns of forage availability and quality, compared perceived patterns of forage availability with normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and determined drivers of forage availability in Karamoja sub-region. Over a 12-month period, 75.3 % of the respondents perceived forage to be sufficiently available with differentiated availability in the livelihood zones and between livestock species (goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys and camels). A similar pattern was observed with regard to perceived forage quality. A significant relationship between perceived forage availability and long-term mean monthly NDVI dynamics was observed. A lag time of 2.9 months existed between rainfall and vegetation response peak periods. Mean monthly rainfall pattern was found to be correlated with perceived forage availability. The length of residence by a livestock keeper, frequency of grazing, number of kraals, presence of governing rules, and presence of conflicts and knowledge of pasture locations, restricted movement and ease of access to grazing areas significantly (P ≤ 0.05) were the major perceived drivers of forage availability. Therefore, we find that pastoral communities in Karamoja have detailed traditional ecological knowledge of forage status and their perceived determinants. There is a need to conduct nutritional analysis of key forage species available in the different livelihood zones. Finally, there is a need to constantly monitor socio-political conditions that have potential of creating ‘artificial’ forage shortage in the sub-region.
Date of publication: 
RUFORUM Journal Articles
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Project sponsor: 
Carnegie Corporation of New York, Makerere University, RUFORUM
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