Opinion: Failing To Learn From Experience

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One of the lessons learnt from the famine of 2011 was that it is crucial to provide humanitarian assistance as quickly as possible to prevent illness, suffering, and death from starvation.

Angella Naturinda and Lynna Abaho
January 28, 2015

Weather experts predict a continuation of the current hot and dry weather conditions in most parts of Uganda. This weather condition which started immediately after Christmas has come with several challenges such as food and water shortage, wildfire, siltation, soil erosion, pests and diseases which are causing devastating loss to farmers especially those in south western region.

For several decades now, the South Western part of Uganda has experienced such dry conditions during the month of January that stretch up to March. What is so surprising is that people in south western region are not learning from this annual experience.

Some of the worst affected people are farmers and residents of Kiruhura district found in the Ankole cattle corridor of Uganda.

Most of the people in Kiruhura are pastoralists and therefore the dry spell means that their livestock lack pasture and water. They are forced to move from their homes to the neighboring Lake Mburo National Park which is reserved for wild animals. This poises a danger to these domestic animals since they have to share pastures with the wild animals in the park. Livestock in the Ankole cattle corridor in Uganda make up about 17% of Uganda agricultural GDP.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change
Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

The residents of Kiruhura are not the only ones affected since the dry spell affects most parts of the Western region and other parts of the country. The fact that the period this dry spell lasts is becoming unpredictable, it is now difficult for farmers in the region to plan for the planting season using the traditional knowledge.

Learning to Learning from Experience

There is need for farmers to form associations to enable members pull funds together to construct dams that can act as reservoirs for water to be used during the dry season.

Government should extend water schemes in villages and introduce piped water in such dry places. This complements the already existing dams and wells. Such piped water is safe considering the fact that it would be treated. The Ministry of Water and Environment should undertake this in conjunction with local governments.

Then they can also construct underground water tanks which are vital in water conservation because they are able to harvest and store water in larger quantities. Such water is also safer compared to the dirty water from wells which is shared by both animals and people.

The local people also need to take more caution since this is not a first-time happening therefore they need to make prior preparations before the dry spell.

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