Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
HOIMA DISTRICT :
The group with the youngest journalists is Hoima and only two girls. At least half of the 24 participants are students from Kitara Institute of Commerce and Media Studies in Hoima. Participants are under the mid-western journalists Association or Bunyoro region Association. Participants come from Bulisa, Kibaale, Hoima, Masindi and Kiboga.
The conference was opened by Mr. Dembe Kawagga Ssetumba the secretary for production and marketing Hoima Town Council on behalf of the mayor. He said the major environment challenges in Hoima include Streams drying up and water sources like Lake Albert having low water levels.
This is the only station where the environment officer Jocelyn Nyangoma refused to come and speak to journalists because ‘we may be discussing issues against government.”
She asked that the district Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) first give her permission to come and talk to the journalists. Even if the CAO did allow she did not show up.
So the participants got into two groups and came up with the major environment challenges in Hoima as well as the effects to these problems.
This group although with many students was quite argumentative and there were 3-5 participants that were lively and knowledgeable. One student asked me ‘Madam how do you define climate change for exams” In other wards what would he write in an exam if the asked him what is Climate change?
“The Ozone layer s being depleted. When I walk I use my cap because the sun rays hit my head and am becoming more stupid,” Jeff on the effect of climate change.
This group had general fears probably a reflection from the bigger community but they thought that when the oil starts flowing from Kaiso-Tonya the environment is going to be affected and they would suffer.
These are genuine concerns but I could only encourage them to do the right thing- file your stories and we see what impact they will make especially on preservation of the environment.
As usual I probed about adaptation on Climate change and these are the answers I received:
-Traditional activities have been changed for most of the tribes. The pastoralists are slowly becoming cultivators too because of food insecurity.
-Many farmers are growing tobacco and ignoring other food, they assume that the money they get from tobacco will be used to buy food but the food prices are higher and cannot make up for the food not grown.
-Grasshoppers are abandoning some habitats like Masaka and they now fall in Hoima in two seasons may-June, November- December. Actually the grasshoppers a delicacy for most of the people in Buganda region have abandoned their traditional areas in Masaka and Mubende. Now in one year we have two seasons for the harvest and they are in big. The Ngobi Hill used to have them but not anymore. I think its because of technology we have the powerful lights that attract them to Hoima. All grasshopper harvesters have shifted from Masaka to Bunyoro region.
-Mangoes are no longer growing very well. They are drying up. When it rains heavily they do not produce fruit because they have many leaves.
-Cattle keepers the Bahima have started staying in one place and have started growing cassava. The pastoralists are giving up their activity and producing their food to become both pastrolism and cultivators.
Most of the officials in Hoima do not go on record. Most of them want you to first go to the CAO and get permission from him.
The case study : Molasses distillation in Bulisa and its cause on the environment.
I left Hoima by Taxi on Saturday 25th July.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The granite rock that stands protruding from the heart of Soroti town faces extinction if an indiscriminate quarrying activity is not stopped.
Among them, engraved in quarrying is Grace Margaret Asamo 51 years old, who entirely depends on rock quarrying proceeds as her sole income for the last six years. Asamo was uprooted from her ancestral home in Katakwi following persistent raids by the marauding Karimojong warriors way back 1987.
“We know we are supposed to leave the quarrying activity at this rock but before that government should give us start up capital that will help us open other income generating activities,” Asamo said.
“We use our hands to break the rock. After burning the stone by using firewood it becomes weak so that it can easily be broken using a hammer,” she added.
Despite an ultimatum given by the state minister of Environment, Jessica Eriyo against quarrying activity at the rock six months ago that expired in July 2007 and up to today the quarrying activity is still going on.
According to Soroti environment officer, Francis Opolot his office has been facing challenges and interference from politicians and local leaders as they try to enforce the minister’s directive.
He also indicated that the quarrying group appealed to the minister to give them time to continue with quarrying for some time as they (quarrying persons) save money to enable them move away and open other businesses.
Apparently, NEMA asked the group to form an association then it forwards it application to them seeking permission to continue with the quarrying. However, on the contrary the Senior Inspector/Register NEMA, Hebert Oule when contacted on phone June 25, 2009 said that NEMA has never given nor seen such application from Soroti quarrying association seeking for permission to carry the quarrying activity at the rock.
“Ask them to give you a copy of the clearance letter if they have any from NEMA. The fact is NEMA has never given them a go ahead and yesterday when we met the Soroti Municipal authorities it was clearly put to them that quarrying should be stopped with immediate effect and if they don’t do it then NEMA will be forced to intervene and carry forceful eviction,” Oule said.
“I am sure those people were misinformed by some persons in Soroti and we as NEMA do not subscribe to their decision. The Soroti Municipal authorities have until next month to have quarrying stopped,” Oule added.