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Prevent rather than respond to disasters

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th September 2008 03:00 AM

THE people of Teso are sitting on a time bomb. Come the rainy season, floods will ravage the region again, according to the Minister for Disaster Preparedness. Scientists have long warned that the alarming rate of cutting down trees, poor methods of farming, encroachment on wetlands and lack of prop

THE people of Teso are sitting on a time bomb. Come the rainy season, floods will ravage the region again, according to the Minister for Disaster Preparedness. Scientists have long warned that the alarming rate of cutting down trees, poor methods of farming, encroachment on wetlands and lack of prop

Phenehas Tukamwesiga

THE people of Teso are sitting on a time bomb. Come the rainy season, floods will ravage the region again, according to the Minister for Disaster Preparedness. Scientists have long warned that the alarming rate of cutting down trees, poor methods of farming, encroachment on wetlands and lack of proper waste management policy will lead to disasters. The disaster is already here in form of El-Nino climate conditions in Uganda.

El Nino, according to scientists, is characterised by abnormally long dry spells followed by heavy rains which cause floods. In western Uganda, particularly the Ankole-Masaka ranching corridor, there has been a persistent dry spell for the last five years, causing serious shortage of pasture and water for the cattle. Banana plantations have even dried up. Unbearable famine is imminent if these conditions persist.

In Karamoja, old people have been dying of hunger for the last three years. This is probably why the disarmament programme has been slow since a gun is a main source of food through cattle-rustling.

The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness is stocking food, sounding warnings and looking for ways of resettling Teso people before the next season begins.

The ministry should do more than just last minute delivery of relief. It should liaise with all government organs and NGOs to prevent and mange disasters. The crisis is a result of poor waste management, cutting down of natural forests, use of polythene bags, use of un-recycled products and overgrazing.

Therefore, the ministry should be pre-occupied with putting in place long term policies like proper waste management, conservation of wetlands, planting of environment friendly trees like Pine, finding alternative sources of fuel to reduce on use of firewood, preservation of natural forests which help in absorbing green house gasses and promoting use of recycled products.

The ministry should also regulate exportation of food which has been partly blamed for high prices of foodstuffs in the country. This will go a long way in making food available to the poor.

The Government and other stakeholders should work together and put policies in place to prevent disaster rather than waiting to deliver relief after the disaster has struck.

The writer is the relationship officer at Postbank

Prevent rather than respond to disasters

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