Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Road safety and climate change in Soroti

I arrived in Soroti about 400 kilometers from Kampala on the 23rd Tuesday morning.

I did not want to use a chicken bus so I opted for the fast running Matatu. It worked but my heart was hanging in the air all the time, the previous week about 40 people had died on this same Jinja road.

On the way some of the most memorable things I remember, that pertain to climate change and the environment, are the vast rice fields in what are supposed to be wetlands, the disappearing forests in most of the country side and worst of all as a believer in conservation the accident of the slow, big and brown lizard.

As we were approaching Bukedea district, a big, heavy, slow, confused, brown lizard ( monitor) was crossing the road. I was on one of the front seat near the driver and alerted him, he saw it, the lizard too saw the car. 

But we hit it. 

I shut my eyes for a minute and looked blankly at the driver. He smiled and said he had to hit it otherwise the car would have overturned at the speed we were driving at. 

So the poor thing had to die to save the car from overturning. 

Another observation that is not related to environmental or climate change is the idleness. There are so many idlers in this part of the country. People are tall and really thin. 

When I paused this to my class they said there are no jobs, the war destabilised everyone and people just do not trust each other but also most people abandoned the villages for towns. 

They also said the food scarcity is so high such that people have only a meal a day and because there are many mangoes in this part of the country some families just eat mangoes for lunch. 

It is the same story of a meal a day but this seems really bad. 

The other is the heat. As I write this in a small Internet café, am sweating out. Just type a few words and am out of this Golden Ark Hotel Café because it is HOT. They say temperatures are between 28-40 degrees should be Celsius. It is hot. 

Well the Case study we have discussed in Soroti is the rock Quarrying, which is causing numerous environmental problems. But journalists hardly report on environment. 

During the Kony war most of them took to reporting politics and they are really not eager to report environment or climate change. I hope the workshop helps. 

The rock quarrying in reference acted as a wind breaker and was a beauty to the district but now it is being destroyed –stones are taken from here for construction. 

This is causing child labour as whole families go to crack stones, there is air and water pollution and a general destabilization of the ecological system. Soroti is a district of rocks. There are many quarrying sites were rocks are being destroyed to feed the construction industry. 

Soroti also has a subcounty-Kyere that has the highest fertility rate in the world. I am really inquisitive to know what it is about. Is it the diet, lack of contraceptives or it is a cultural thing. I am going to do this story, conduct some interviews today. 

We discussed many environmental issues and adaptation with some of the issues contributed by the class below ( the way we understood it). Adaptation Soroti: 1. One meal a day –some eat fruits, drink porridge, They used to drink Malwa made of millet that was very nutritious to Waragi, which is not good. 2. There is increased use of energy saving stoves using firewood. 3. The people of Teso are mainly cattle keepers. 

Originally they used to graze on different grazing farms but have now resorted to taking all the flock to a central grazing point. Tolbert from Kapir in Kumi said this swamp near his home keeps lots of cattle, pigs, dogs, which have all been damped in the swamp because people do not have enough grazing, ground. 

Once in a while owners of the flock go to check on the herds or assign them to nearby caretakers to milk them. “Right now if you go to that swamp you will find caucuses of animals- pigs, cows dying because of disease and lack of proper care. People have gone on to live in towns and most of them are idle. 

Stories to be worked on the Class: David- Massive rice cultivation in the wetlands. John Adams- Wetlands destruction by cattle keepers. Jonathan- Garbage recycle plant that is world Bank funded. Mike – Buveera- environmental impact Gilbert- tree felling –encroachment on wetlands. Williams Moi- Environmental effect of waste from grinding mills. ( This region has many grinding mills of ground nuts, simsim) Tolbert- Buweera- dumping Cecilia- effects of tree felling on climate change, new variety of crops. Joseph- deforestation Peterson-people who have built in wetlands? David Opolot- buveera- Felix- encroachment on wetlands. James- World Bank- NEMA- Garbage recycling plant- air pollution Sam Odongo- Rock quarrying – Salome Among- Rock quarrying – David Opio- Swamps destruction- impact on the communities, fish stocks Catherine- deforestation – effects on the environment. Alomu Delux – waste disposal- Rebecca – Wetland farming Hesed – Wetland grazing – cattle and animals –Awogye. 

Let us wait for the stories.

1 comment:

  1. Hullo Esther,

    I find your interest in the enviromental and its conservation very fascinating. In particular,I have been drawn to what I sense was dishearting experience for you to see the big slow lizard bening crushed by the Matatu. You felt it should have been saved, but then the driver tells you an attempt to save it could lead to you vehicle overturning and perhaps another sad incident like the one that had claimed 40 lives on the same road - a week ago could have reoccurred within such time closeness.

    But to me the story of the lizard being crushed because the driver had to save the vehicle from overturning and therefore to save your lives brings a debate on the envirroment that we always ignore, that is, what is the status of man in the enviroment and what is the status of other spicie in the same enviroment. There is this everlasting belief that Man is a superior rationale being among all other spicies - but is this really true. And therefore that man has and should have control over other spicies, including deciding on their fate. Was it rationale for your Matatu driver to Kill the lizard and save himself, his car and his passangers? May be it could be rational in human understanding but what about in the lizard's understanding?

    Even when I see the challenge of the quaring business in Soroti as you posted them, all the challenges are because man has been affected in some way - no wind breaker (to protect man's houses?), destroyed scenic beauty (scenic beauty for who, Man of course) and so forth.

    The question is shall we have to only look at enviromental protecting only on the premise of man's interests, to protect Mountain Guarillas becase they attract tourists?, why not for the sake of the guarillas as an end in themseleves?
    At least I was deligheted to read from your blog that someone felt for the lizard - and I assume for the sake of the Lizard? But my question to you; suppose you were the Matatu driver, could you have risked overturning the Matatu to save the Lizard???

    Yusuf Kiranda


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