Monday, November 21, 2011

Single mothers left behind in flooded Ugandan swampland

Andrew Green in IPS: Life in Bwaise – a slum on the outskirts of the capital of Uganda – has never been easy. But increasingly erratic rains over the last three years have brought constant floods to the former swampland. Residents who can afford to are moving out, leaving the poorest – often single mothers and grandmothers – behind.

The gardens around Regina Bayiyana’s home in Bwaise keep washing away. Her husband and all five of her children died after long illnesses, leaving her to raise 15 grandchildren on her own in her one- bedroom house. The crops she grew in the gardens – bananas, sweet potatoes and yams – were her main source of both food and income. Now she and her family have cut back to one meal a day and there is no longer money for school fees. "Ten years back this used to be a good place," Bayiyana said. "Now we can’t plant… The water is entering our homes whenever it rains. All my property was washed away by the rains."

...A 2008 Oxfam International report, written with assistance from district officials in Uganda, said many of the changes to the country's climate - including "heavy and violent" rains - were consistent with global warming effects.

Though weather patterns in Uganda have always been unpredictable, the authors said the recently inconsistent rainfall combined with the country's continuing deforestation could increase risk of floods, as the soil is unable to absorb as much water. And the report predicted that the entire region could expect to become even wetter in the future....

A street view in Kampala, shot by Simisa, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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