The use of project alternatives in environmental and social impact assessment in Uganda
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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is intended to integrate the environment into decision making for a proposed course of action and consideration of alternatives at the strategic level. For EIA to guide strategic decision-making, the range of alternative courses of actions to meet the development objective with reduced impacts on the environment should be iterated. The alternatives analysis is often much less rigorous, and many EAs for smaller projects often analyze only the action proposed. This study aimed at assessing the relevance of EIA in improving project designs for purposes of ensuring sustainable development specifically to evaluate the use of alternatives in improving the proposed project design. Both quantitative and qualitative using conducive sampling were used. The study was be conducted using desk review method; it included data collection basing on already existing data from EIA reports of different developments. From the study, 10 alternative types were discussed and they included no action and location, which were most, discussed, technology, activity, design, operational footprint, production, material substitution, timing and routing. The results showed that the section on project alternatives was the least emphasized (p<0.05) compared to other sections of the report based on the space in the report dedicated to discussing project alternatives and this was not different across project categories (F= 1.141, p = 0.338). It’s concluded that the ESIA process does not achieve its potential of improving project design if alternatives to the proposal are not assessed. Its recommended that guidelines for ESIA should be strengthened at ESIA review stage to ensure that alternative are adequately covered.