SEA profile

Updated to: 27 June 2011

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SEA background

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Country contact on SEA

National Environment Management Authority
NEMA House, Plot 17/19/21 Jinja Road, P.O. Box 22255
Kampala, Uganda.
Tel: 256-41-251064/5/8
Fax 256-41-257521,

Country's planning system

The revised Poverty Eradication Plan (PEAP) has guided the formulation of government policy since 1997. It is the national planning framework on the basis of which detailed sector wide strategies and sectoral policies are developed. Policies are formulated at national level, while plans and projects operationalize them at sub-national local level. More recently, a cross-sectoral planning approach is chosen which emphasizes public consultations and consensus building. The environment is one of the cross cutting themes within the sector wide framework.

SEA guidelines (2006)

History of SEA

To date, SEA application in Uganda has mainly been donor driven and/or voluntary. At the moment SEA is not a regulatory instrument and therefore does not impose any additional legislative responsibility on government authorities. The EIA regulation does mention that the environmental impact assessment of a policy does not exclude the need to assess the environmental impact of specific projects proposed in accordance with the policy and that the Executive Director may, in approving the terms of reference of an environmental impact study for a project, exclude those general matters which have already been covered in the assessment of a policy. This suggest an SEA, but no clear provisions are given.

Legal framework for SEA

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Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) have been issued by NEMA in 2006. They are not legally binding and aim to advise practitioners and Government Ministries.

Scope of SEA application

The guidelines for SEA (2006) suggest that SEA is required at policy, plan and programme level.

Exemptions from SEA application

The non-binding SEA guidelines mention special cases for which no SEA is required:
- if a proposal is prepared in response to a clear and immediate emergency
- where the matter is of urgency
- issues that have been previously assessed for environmental impacts.

SEA approach

The non-binding SEA guidelines suggest a flexible approach for SEA. They acknowledge that there is no best methodology for SEA and that the respective government authorities are encouraged to develop approaches that are tailored to their needs and circumstances. The guidelines thus propose an SEA procedure that is separate from EIA.

SEA tiering with EIA

The EIA regulation mentions that the environmental impact assessment of a policy does not exclude the need to assess the environmental impact of specific projects proposed in accordance with the policy. Also it says that the Executive Director may, in approving the terms of reference of an environmental impact study for a project, exclude those general matters which have already been covered in the assessment of a policy. No direct reference to SEA is made in the legislation though.

Institutional setting for SEA

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Central SEA authority

The SEA guidelines (2006) suggest NEMA to be the central SEA authority. It is proposed that NEMA oversees the development of PPPS and ensures the integration of environmental concerns into national planning.

Initiator of the SEA

According to the SEA guidelines, each individual Government Ministry, department and agency is responsible for applying SEA to its proposed policies, plans and programmes.

SEA procedure

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Establishing context

Overview SEA procedure

The SEA guidelines propose the following general steps for the SEA procedure:
- Identify broad plan and programme alternatives
- Screening
- Scoping
- Situation Assessment
- Formulate sustainability parameters for the development of the plan or programme
- Develop and assess alternative plans and programmes
- Decision-making
- Develop a plan for implementation, monitoring and auditing

The guidelines highlight though that the suggested SEA approach can be used flexibly and that it can get tailored to the needs of the respective government.
The flowchart on page 34 of the guidelines illustrates how these different stages of the SEA process relate to each other.

Screening process

The non-binding guidelines suggest screening to identify the over-arching purpose of the programme or plan and to determine whether an SEA is required. They mention that the analyst may use a variety of tools to screen the proposal, such as matrices, checklists and experts from within the department or from other departments and agencies. If the screening identifies potential for significant environmental effects or a high level of uncertainty or risk associated with the outcome of the study, then a more detailed analysis of the environmental effects should be conducted through an SEA. Appendices 6, 7and 8 of the SEA guidelines offer guidance for the screening process.

Identification of stakeholders

The guidelines suggest public involvement through the development phases of the policy. Thus, stakeholders should be identified at an early stage of the SEA.

Setting SEA objectives

The guidelines suggest the formulation of sustainability objectives which are then translated into context-specific sustainability criteria and indicators. These result in a sustainability framework. Such a framework can be used to develop alternative plans and programme or evaluate alternatives.

Implementing the SEA

Scoping process

The guidelines recommend that the first step of the scoping process is to formulate a vision and identify strategic issues to be addressed by SEA. They foresee stakeholder participation in the scoping phase. The scoping process should identify alternatives and impacts to be addressed and exclude irrelevant information.

Participation in scoping

As mentioned in the SEA guidelines (2006), during the scoping stage public participation is important. Key stakeholders are said to have a coordinating role in the scoping process, for example through a steering committee. The public participation process can have different forms and should be designed in a way that it enhances the entire SEA process.

Baseline data

The Annex 3 of the SEA guidelines list potential methods to be used for the baseline study.


The SEA guidelines advise that plan or programme alternative should be formulated at the onset of the SEA process. These alternative will then be changed and refined as the plan or programme is developed.

Assessment/mitigation of effects

The guidelines propose that the analysis of the environmental considerations should be undertaken throughout the policy development process. It should be integrated into the comparison of the alternative proposals. The level of effort committed to the SEA should depend on the level of environmental impacts that could result from the implementation of the proposed PPP.

Documenting results

The SEA guidelines advise that SEA information should be presented in either a separate report or as a chapter of the policy proposal.

Informing and influencing decision-making

SEA and planning decision-making

The guidelines foresee that SEA conclusions and recommendations should be taken into account for decision-making. Furthermore, PPP proposals should be present to NEMA for review, which then presents it to the Policy Committee on Environment, which scrutinises the proposals before forwarding it to the cabinet.


SEA practice

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Year of first SEA


Case studies

SEA-type aproaches were used to inform the development of the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (launched in 1997)

In 2009/2010, the NCEA advised on the ToR for an SEA for the oil and gas sector in Albertine Graben. This led to further involvement in this SEA,  in cooperation with the Norwegian Oil for Development Program and the Uganda National Environmental Authority (NEMA). The ToR  for the SEA has been adopted mid 2011 by NEMA. The SEA itself is being developed by a consultants team. In 2012, the NCEA was requested by the SEA steering committee (in which NEMA and the Ugandan Petroleum and Exploration Department have a seat) to perform independent quality assurance of the SEA inception report and interim SEA report. The SEA report is now (March) available in final draft. More information about the SEA in Albertine Graben and the NCEA's involvement in it can be found here.

Professional bodies

East African Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE): Regional network of governmental agencies which have in their mandate environmental management, compliance and enforcement responsibilities in the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Capacity development

A first workshop on SEA in Uganda took place in January 2011. The workshop targeted around 15 members of the Ugandan Association of Impact Assessment and around 10 technical government staff and was meant to enable them to prepare for, coordinate the execution and manage the overall process of SEA and its embedding in decision making. During the 5 day workshop, participants practiced different steps and techniques in group exercises shaped around real life case examples of plans, programmes or policies such as the Nile Basin Power Options Development SEA and the SEA for the oil and gas developments in the Albertine Graben.During the workshop, a site visit was organized to two hydropower schemes on the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda. The first, at Owen Falls, is past the date of decommissioning and has recently been refurbished, and the second (at Bujagali) is currently under construction. The dams form part of the SEA study on the Nile Power Development Options.

SEA links

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