The dry spell that runs from October to February has left farmers in the cattle corridor counting losses as water runs out and pasture is depleted. GERALD TENYWA was in Nakasongola to see how the farmers are coping.
At Migyera in Nakasongola, Anne Bazara buys water at sh2,000 a 20-litre jerrycan, which is about 20 times more expensive than in Kampala.
She is one of the thousands desperately searching for water as the heat scorches Nakasongola during the dry
spell that usually runs from October to February of every year.
The cattle corridor, a dry land belt running from northeastern Uganda across the central region to southwestern Uganda.
“A 20-litrejerrycan of water from the borehole goes for sh2,000, while that from the dam costs between sh700 and sh1,000,” said Bazara, adding that the dam water is dirty.
Three weeks ago, piped water at Migyera run dry. The water sources are getting dry one after another, making it more difficult to get water. At the moment, the nearest water source (boreholes) in Migyera is about 15km away. As a result, some people go for days without bathing.
The drought has also caused food insecurity and pastures have been depleted leaving the residents and cattle hungry. Nakasongola has become a hard place to stay.
Joshua Sebwato, a National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) coordinator at Nabiswera, said: “Cattle have been dying in the last three weeks due to starvation.”
“This has led to losses since the meat is sold at giveaway prices.”
A kilogramme of meat in Nakasongola now goes for between sh1,500 and sh2,000. In Kampala, the average price of a kilogramme of meat is sh7,000.
The cattle that are braving the hard conditions have become too thin that cattle dealers offer about sh200,000 for an animal previously sold for sh800,000.
Government offers uncoordinated support
To deal with the food shortage, the farmers have resorted to cutting potato into small slices and drying it to preserve it. The dried potatoes are known as kasedde.
“If left in the ground, the potatoes would rot, leaving farmers hungry,” Sebwato says.
Others have intensified charcoal burning as a means of survival, but this leaves the ground bear, prolonging the dry spell.
The district environment officer, James Kunobere, has been carrying out sensitisation, educating the residents on the dangers of cutting the trees.
Patrick Kibaya, the Climate Change Adaptation ICT (CHAI) manager, said government agencies are trying to address climate change, but remain uncoordinated.
“With the creation of the Climate Change Unit there is going to be a lot more coordination when it comes to awareness and interventions on climate change,” said Kibaya, adding that uncoordinated activities lead to duplication of services.
He advised farmers to diversify their enterprises and adapt environmentally friendly activities such as fruit growing, rearing of bees and low cost water harvesting technologies.
“People often imagine that adaptation is about grand technologies, which cost a lot of money. It is possible to adapt to climate change by using locally available resources,” he said.
Prolonged dry spell ravages cattle corridor