Stories

A New Crop

Good news from Kimilili, Rev Wasike tells the story of a family:

"Immediately after Jennifer donated the money, I called the families through the one of board members and communicated about the donations and their intended purpose. When Kundu’s father received information about the donated seeds, it was God's timings that the father and Kundu plus others in the family seriously became engaged preparing their land for planting.

This gift really enabled this particular family to approach the year in a different style. Kundu and his siblings plus the father are without mother, and though they have land they have been compelled to hire out the same land at a small fee for many years since they never had means to farm the land themselves.

Now they could finally grow their own food. Since the family could not afford a tractor or oxen to come by to plough the land, they had to do it by hand (hoe). Even though this is a slow way of preparations, they had completed a big portion of their land by the time we went to buy the seeds.

Originally, I had wished to buy the seeds in Nairobi, but communication with the family forced me to go and make them select what type crop seeds they thought they could manage without more inputs from outsiders. They had very set ideas about what they wanted to grow. So when I was in Kimilili last week, right away Kundu plus his father and I went into town to buy the seeds in the Agrovet shop.

At this stage, I was a bit surprised with Kundu’s reaction. He did not indicate much happiness, but acted as if it as normal for him to receive the seeds. Then, I looked at Kundu’s father and was challenged when I saw tears flowing, upon receiving the seeds. In fact, he said that did not believe it would happen. He had done all the preparation not quite believing it would actually happen. When handed him his seeds, he wanted to leave immediately. He didn’t even want to stop to take a photo.

It was a cloudy day and showing signs of rain. He just excused himself, saying that he wanted the day's rain to find his seeds in the soil. Two or three hours later, I went to his home because I wanted to discuss with him a difficult situation that persisted for the last few months. And that was, he refused to let Kundu go to school and instead got Kundu casual work looking after cattle for the neighbourhood.

Upon reaching the home of Kundu, I was shocked to see everyone out on the plot of land planting the seeds. It was almost impossible for me to get Kundu’s father to sit down with me to discuss this matter close to my heart, even though I sacrificed time needed with other community members to go there.

As far as one could see, there was a beehive of activity on the plot of the land of Kundu’ family planting the seeds. The father and elder children plus Kundu himself were at peace; joyful and energetic to go the extra mile as long as it meant planting their own food.

I had a short chat with the father and he promised to send Kundu back to school when the school terms start again. Not only do the seeds provide the family with food, they also enable Kundu to go to school. Among all those who received gifts from Jennifer, my personal rating noted that Kundu’s family saw God through the seeds."

A good community approach has led to worthwhile changes in Nakyerongosa village, Uganda

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A good community approach has led to worthwhile changes in Nakyerongosa village, Uganda

One of the beneficiaries of the project, Mr. George William Kabuye narrates his experiences thus: I am a resident of Nakyerongosa parish in Kakiri Sub-county. Nakyerongosa parish is one of the lucky parishes that were selected by COMASA and Wakiso district to be assisted in improving community livelihood. I was very glad to understand that COMASA was going to work with us to improve our general health.

Before COMASA''s intervention in my parish, the water and sanitation situation was very pathetic and it was unbelievable to see that Nakyerongosa community members were still surviving. In my parish, people did not understand the importance of using a safe latrine and open defecation was a very common practice especially on the road side.

We have very many local bars where men and a few women spend their leisure time but with no latrines and they all used to go to the nearby bushes to ease themselves. The smell was terrible and unbearable.

As a health educator, I would sympathise with the situation but it was out of my control. In my home I had a latrine but had to lock it up always because people could visit me purposely to use my latrine and it was getting filled up so fast that I could not manage and tolerate the situation.

However, this did not save the situation because the environment was not friendly at all and diarrhea was among the diseases that attacked the people in Nakyerongosa. I used to sensitise the people that occurrences of diarrhea in our parish was due to poor sanitation practices but they thought I was a proud man until I gave up.

But thanks to COMASA''s intervention because it was good timing. COMASA has a participatory way of involving people in understanding their problems and I believe that this was the turning point in my parish. Community members were sensitized about their pathetic situation and the consequences. It was amazing that even the very stubborn members were interested in listening to what COMASA officials had to say. Nakyerongosa community members accepted that their pathetic situation was their own making and agreed to make a change. They collectively participated in the demonstration training and duplicated the facilities in their homes.

To intensify change, COMASA selected and trained community monitoring members who were approved by all the community members and these were assigned the role of continuous promotion and monitoring of change in each household in the parish. Each monitoring member was assigned not more than 15 households and these competed at being the best.

You cannot believe the changes in Nakyerongosa parish. Before the changes, I was planning to shift to another area but now I am happy to associate with the village members. Very many households wash their hands before eating and after visiting their latrines. Many have put up temporary latrines as the construction of permanent latrines goes on in many homes. This has been my wish for so many years and I am glad that my wishes are coming true. Thanks to COMASA, it would not be possible if they had not convinced the community members.

COMASA has also trained us in PRA methods and the struggle still continues. Well done to COMASA for the participatory approaches that have created a miracle in my village.

Urban poor most affected by Climate Change

For a long time, environmentalists have been accused by development enthusiasts of being anti-development. It is hard to escape the tension between developers and environmental preservation advocates.

Most cities in Africa, Kampala inclusive, are experiencing more heat waves. This has been attributed to the diurnal cycles of absorption and re-radiation of solar energy as well as heat generated from buildings. The increased frequency of heat-stress events in cities has affected the health and leisure among the urban population.

According to Ms Anna Tibaijuka, the UN Habitat executive director, urban areas are key to tackling global warming as they account directly for 50 to 60 per cent of human greenhouse gas emissions. She said in African slums, one in three slum dwellers is considered an environmental refugee.

The conventional challenges of urban environmental management have resulted in immense environmental effects such as degradation of green spaces and increased green house gas (GHG) emissions. This is evident from the poor management of waste; emitting methane gas if it is organic or carbon dioxide if it is burnt. Road transport emits more than 70 per cent of GHGs and buildings 30 per cent of GHGs.
With such impacts of Climate Change on urban areas, the urban poor are at most risk since they live in the most hazardous environments such as flood plains.

For developing countries, adaptation to climate change is already happening. In Kampala City, for instance, households raise beds by adding bricks on the floor to keep their beddings from getting wet incase it floods. Yet in developed cities, people are being protected against risks associated with Climate Change through public investment in infrastructure.

During a meeting on Climate Change meeting in Oslo in Norway recently, Florence Namayanja, deputy Kampala mayor, said investment in drainage infrastructure in the city will be crucial and will require huge amount of money. However, the key to adaptation is having a competent, capable and accountable urban government that understands Climate Change adaptation measures.

And for adaptation to yield results, all urban government departments have to be involved. In the case of Kampala, the city authority has to strengthen its environmental management department and co-ordinate well with the Climate Change unit, National Environment Management Authority and civil society organisations. After all, Climate Change is no longer an issue relegated to just one minister, one ministry or a few institutions. It is now a holistic concern.

We have policies such as the Forestry Policy (2001) that calls for urban forestry. Why don’t we start implementing such strategies to combat Climate Change?

Source: Josephat Ntegeka; The Daily Monitor, 21st May 2009; www.monitor.co.ug

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