A look into the famine of Isingiro district!
Our economy is on a downward trend. The majority are hurting. Businesses are closing. Tax collections are down. Citizens are dying of famine in Karamoja and Isingiro, so far. But the President is quiet, only busy campaigning and buying votes for 2021 and wasting our scarce resources on numerous useless foreign trips” (Wafula Oguttu, 28.10.2016).
“Climate: Equatorial climate with Mean annual rainfall of 1,200mm and temperature range between 170C to 300C. Rain season during the months of March to April and September to November” (Isingiro District Economic Profile – Ministry of Trade Industry & Cooperatives, www.mtic.go.ug ). So you can see that the estimated rain has not come to the district as the rainy season has not happen and the annual rainfall must be less or none of what is expected in Isingiro. Therefore the draught and hunger happens as the government has none or no services or relief to their citizens. Therefore the dire reports is to show how neglectful and spread the news of the failure of the NRM and their 30 years an counting President delivers steady regress on yet another field.
“We shall get water from River Kagera but we have some problem with Tanzania, we wanted to build a power dam on River Kagera but they delayed to agree to the deal, that river is not ours only, it is shared. There is, however, a new leadership (in Tanzania). Let us see how we work with them. If it will not be possible, we shall turn to River Rwizi and Lake Nakivale,” – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 11th January 2016 in Isingiro District during his campaign earlier this year.
There are reports of famine and hunger crisis in Isingiro district in Uganda. Just of yesterday alone there people dying and that is just the beginning. This is a district that has been famous for great production of Banana (Matooki) farming, the worst hit district in Isingiro region is Bukahanga County. The river that has been necessary for watering the fields have become dry and less viable that is River Kagera; the severe draught has also caused the deaths of livestocks of the district as well.
On the 19th October it was reported that 9 people had died. On the 29th October 13 people died this last week.
“People in Isingiro district are dyeing due to total famine in the area, the famine in the area has been caused by prolonged drought in the area which is said to have been caused by swamp drainage and forest encroachment in the area, tens of people have already kicked the bucket in the county of Bukanga and others are following“ (Stillhope Foundation, 25.10.2016).
“Following a huge calamity that befell Isingiro district, in terms of floods, draught and hail storms most people have been seen leaving the district to other neighboring district for safety. Most affected sub counties include Bukanga, Kashumba,Rushasha, Ngarama, Rugaaga among others” (Glory 106.7 FM, 28.10.2016).
Just as the dying livestock, the number of cows that has died been reported up to 5,000 and the draught the prices of food is evolving, like a cow cost now 20,000 shillings. There reports that school children suffer through classes as they are not able to focus through class and memorize the knowledge, as they are suffering through the classes with empty stomachs. By October this draught has lasted for 7 months and still counting. There been also reports that the people of Isingiro now walk for 20 kilometers for water needed to boil their food, as the reports are even of people eating raw Papaya or Paw Paw to redeem their hunger for a while.
While this is happening there are no words from the Local Councilor (LCV) Jeremiah Kamurari over the draught or the famine. The utter silence from the state shows the desperation of the matter.
Old report of the River Kagera water system:
“Kagera Water System: The secondary and tertiary tributaries of the water system are U-shaped with permanent and seasonal swamps and drains into Kagera River. It drains the parts of Bukanga and Isingiro Counties” (…) “The permanent swamps are dominated by Cyperus and Typha domingesis while the seasonal flooding edges and enchroached parts of wetlands are occupied by the sedges. The floating vegetation occurs in open waters especially the invasive weed of the water hyacinth which still exists in River Kagera, Kizimbi wetland and River Rwizi” (…) “Kagera System – Threats: Degraded river bank – with seasonal crops. Opening of virgin area for agriculture. A lot of siltation. Water hyacinth” (Jeconius Musingwe and Godfrey Rugyema – ‘FINAL DRAFT MBARARA DISTRICT WETLAND INVENTORY REPORT’ (P: 8, 11 & 17), September 2002).
With this in mind, the knowledge of making the Kagera Water System, that could lead into dangers, which are now evident. It is man-made created, not climate-change, but local produced water system that the drainage and river bank doesn’t work like they did, because of the local change of flow of water and such. We can question if the project and drainage together with the loss of rain has made the draught much worse. The implication if is there was a drainage and project on the River Kagera, than the draught might had less impact; that is something should be discussed and not forgotten. The man-made problems are not new anywhere, it is just about the happen and this time it was in Isingiro district. The sad thing is that families are powerless towards the Government and their will. The same is the Government is powerless to change weather and the rain falling from the sky.
The good news from the district is that the Government has been able in recent month to build a Staff Quarter for the Isingiro Government Prison. So the Government has been able to do something, but not to get food for the starving public or gain interest of the media to see if the Central Government in Parliament to act upon the hunger. They are just waiting for the gravy train together with Tanzania, because of building a Power Dam, instead of thinking of the agricultural value and the livestock that is dying in the area. This is something to pound on? Yes! People should be more important than a Power Dam. Though the NRM seems to think differently; that is proven as the draught and such has not changed the behavior of the regime. Peace!