Background: Globally, the incidence of disasters is rising. Uganda is one of several countries experiencing an upturn in adverse climate events. Although Uganda’s government has implemented several strategies to mitigate land-use and population pressure-related climate adversity in high-risk zones, communities have not responded to them sufficiently, implying a resilience gap. The objective of this study was to describe the concerns and misconceptions impeding community uptake of climate risk mitigation policies in a rural area in Eastern Uganda.
Methods: The study was conducted in Butalejja and Bududa districts in the Mt. Elgon region of Eastern Uganda that is prone to recurrent land-slides and floods. The design was a qualitative study, consisting of 15 small group discussions per district, nested within a Deliberative Poll®. Key government of Uganda policy options on sustainable settlement and family planning were presented to participants who then discussed them with the guidance of a moderator. Results: Not only were participants distrustful of how the land from which they are evacuated would be managed, but they also resented being resettled in unfamiliar places with substantially different topography, low soil fertility, and at a great distance from their ancestral sites and social networks. A latent theme from the data was the pervasive expectation by communities to be assisted by government in all areas of their livelihood needs. Key barriers to Family Planning included lack of safety guarantees, helplessness in the event of a side effect, failure by communities to link family size to resource constraints, and feelings of entitlement to assistance among people with large families. The misconceptions were fueled by a large information asymmetry between the community members and the policy makers. Conclusion: Lasting solutions to climate risk in rural communities will require continuous information-driven dialogue between community members and implementers to address major misconceptions and information asymmetries regarding risk mitigation policies.