Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mount Elgon mudslides the result of climate change

An editorial by Chris Mugyenyi in the Daily Monitor (Uganda): Daily Monitor on Wednesday reported that a massive landslide that swept the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda on Monday night killed at least 80 people, with 350 missing and feared dead. The landslide erased three villages of Kubehwo, Namakansa and Nametsi located in Bukalasi sub-county in Bududa District. As earlier predicted, climate change will continue to leave severe damages on communities least prepared to adapt.

….Crops in Nakasongola fail due to drought, malaria spreading mosquitoes invade Kigezi highlands, crops in northern Uganda get under flood water, and people die of hunger in Karamoja as stocks die due to thirst. Pests and disease wipe out crop plantations and domestic animals, glaciers on Mt Rwenzori begin to recede; Ankole region becomes food insecure as farmers can no longer predict when it is appropriate to begin planting and Lake Victoria level begins to drop. Polar ice sheets collapse and melt, small island states and coastal towns get permanently submerged by ocean water.

…the two constituencies of the poor (in which bracket Uganda falls) and future generations that are most vulnerable have got a weak political voice. The rich and industrialised nations have their nationals properly fortified and well cautioned against the impacts of climate change. They have the political will to help their citizens, financial and technical capacity to properly cope with the impacts of climate change.

Everything goes back to the question of disaster preparedness. How prepared are we when these disasters strike? What about when our major highways get blocked by landslides or major bridges get swept away. Can Entebbe International Airport singly receive the disaster relief? Have we learned any lesson from the ill prepared Haiti when it was struck by a strong earthquake?

1 comment:

ian said...

I think that it is a little unfair to lay the blame of recent landslides on climate change.

The intensity of cultivation on the slopes of Mount Elgon plays a huge part on the stability of the hillsides.

I was there in 1997 when the region was last hit by long periods of rain which caused the soil to become so saturated. There were problems then and there are very similar problems today.

Is climate change really resulting in excessive rain in Eastern Uganda?