Jun
23

A SHILLINGS 1.3 TRILLION ENVIRONMENT BUDGET; A CUP HALF-FULL

@rwetaya
For a sector that scored the most increment (66%) in the recently passed 2018/19 budget, Uganda’s Water and Environment ministry still has to limp through most of the financial year, as the allocation still falls short of responding to the budgetary targets of the different agencies.

A boost from last year’s sh632b, the sector’s allocation of sh1.27 trillion is meant to support and manage Uganda’s water resources, diverse ecosystems and biodiversity in the next financial year.

Earmarked as one of the key drivers for the attainment of the National Development Plan II and Vision 2040, the increment in funding to the water and environment sector implies that players, such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the National Meteorological Authority will have an enhanced resource envelope to execute their mandate.

NEMA has, for instance, been allocated a total of sh13.095b, up from sh9.2b, this financial year. However, this still leaves the environment watchdog with a sh22.73b funding gap.

NEMA needs sh14.5b to support its decentralized management function at the district and municipal level; sh3.5b to support the restoration of ecosystems and sh1b to execute its public education, environmental literacy, capacity building and sensitization programmes.

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Jan
11

EXCITEMENT GROWS AS THE 2017 AFRICAN NATIONS CUP KICKOFF DRAWS CLOSE

By Richard Wetaya

The African Cup of Nations soccer competition is set to kick off in Gabon on Saturday and as you would expect, there is a real palpable sense of anticipation, not only amongst Uganda Cranes fans but multitudes of soccer fans across the African continent.
For the next one month or so, soccer enthusiasts across the continent are going to put everything else on the back burner; to stand a treat of Africa’s greatest soccer showpiece.
With the Cranes playing at the tournament for the first time in three decades, the excitement in this pearly part of Africa is beginning to catch on.
Every Ugandan (soccer loving or not) should be excited. Why? Well, because we do not often get to see the Cranes play at that stage.
The Cranes made history by qualifying and by playing at the tournament; they will also be making history.


Behind the excitement however, there is a real cautious or ambivalent optimism amongst some fans about the Cranes chances of advancing beyond the group stage.
The Cranes are in group D and are set to lock horns with formidable opponents in Ghana, Egypt and Mali.
Only a naive person will demur the fact that the aforementioned are not soccer juggernauts. Mali you could argue is the exception herein.

Ugandan football acolytes are of course wary of the impressive pedigrees of the above opponents.
You may argue that the Cranes have impressively competed against the Black Stars of Ghana in recent games and that should be reason enough to be upbeat. Granted! But let’s not forget though that the Black Stars have that experience mill up their sleeve and by now, I figure they should have a trick up their sleeve on how to overcome Uganda and the other opponents.

At issue, too for most fans is the less than impressive Cranes striking force.
Making that worse is the fact that some Cranes players have not been getting adequate play time with their teams, denoting they will turn out for games with their fitness in question.
Mawejje and Isinde have been without clubs but remarkably they made the final team. The fact that they made the team does speak volumes about their readiness and fitness, so a benefit of doubt to them is due.
Just hoping our opponents do not read this though. Regardless who are they not to be petrified of the Cranes. They put on shorts one leg at a time just like the rest of the other teams at the competition, so much as they are special, the Cranes are special too.
The Cranes are the best team in East Africa; the tale tattles spying for the Ghanaians, Egyptians and Malians should be brought to terms with that fact.
The Cranes will compete, you can bet your last dollar.

To compete favorably however, the often maligned Cranes striking force led by Geoffrey Massa needs to step and show some real mettle; as there will be no second bites at the cherry in the group stages if we draw or lose.
It is going to be a battle of wills and the team needs to take its chances or else they will rue.

In recent Cranes games, Massa has looked more of a niddle noddle spent force than a real striking threat.

 
I stand corrected but it will be foolhardy to expect goals from a guy who hardly gets play time at his club down in South Africa.
Massa obviously has a chip on his shoulders, given the flake fans and the media have thrown at him over his recent below par Cranes performances.
Many figure, Massa may use the criticism to his advantage; cognizant of what is at stake.
This Nation’s cup may just be his swan song, so it must be in his interest to prove that he is still up to the mark.
He will want to prove something to his critics.

With Massa’s proficiency in question; the Cranes may hypothetically struggle upfront, except when Geoffrey Sserunkuma, Yusuf Ssentamu and the inexperienced Muhammed Shaban firmly pick up the striking gauntlet.
If for some reason, they do not pick it up, then our chances of getting out of that group will be as hard as nailing jelly to the wall.
It will be a herculean task for the Cranes if we do not score goals. Goals win games.
Football is football as the mantra indeed goes but without a potent striking force, any team will struggle. Nobody wants the Cranes to struggle like that proverbial lame duck over a stile after turning the pages of history.

Luckily however we have a one Farouk Miya; Cranes best kept secret.
The young lad star’s has been on the ascendancy and his growing legendary status was buoyed and propped up with that crucial goal he scored against the Comoros to earn the Cranes a berth at AFCON after 3 decades.
Miya is one guy who can run an opposing team’s defense ragged and he is a good ball distributor to boot.
Miya and Moses Oloya-the other attacking Cranes midfielder are like two peas in a pod; they make haste and are very pacey and skilful on the ball when given space.
The two will come in handy for the Cranes.

Uganda has been bidding time. The nation has waited long to see the Cranes compete at Africa’s biggest soccer event.
Its time everybody gets behind the team-Tulumbe.






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Jan
15

Communicating less does not mean he does not hold you dear anymore

A woman’s mind’s eye can be a terrible thing to waste sometimes. When a woman is under an illusion, her thoughts can go way ward sometimes.
Why for example, do some women draw long faces and rationalize that their man are deliberating acting out of character when they are not their usual cheerful, buoyant and happy go lucky selves.
Naivete perhaps explains it.

Communicating less does not, by any long shot, mean a man does not hold you dear anymore. Neither does it mean he is having a fling with somebody else or he is eschewing his responsibilities
It is just conventional wisdom. Sometimes men just need to be left alone, sometimes that is, not all the time. Good thing though is that eventually your man will get his mojo back. That is if he does not have a psychiatric problem. It is just within the nature of some men to desire solitude. It is just an occasional male inclination that manifests when many of us least expect.

Men have their off days, just like women have their off days. Those “mister wrong side of the bed” days. So the fuss at times by our women can be uncalled for. The male psyche plays mischievous tricks the best of psychiatrists would never understand.

Sometimes men just need another companion. On occasion, there is no companion as cordial for a man like solitude. Resisting that occasional need for solitary space can best be described as going against the grain.

Misery rarely loves a man’s company especially if he is following the dictates of nature.
No woman however fancies a break in communication with her significant other or call it her husband or beau. She will feel disillusioned and consider it a cold shoulder.

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Aug
31

SENIOR QUARTERS MBALE-AT PRESENT IT IS MORE LIKE A BEAR GARDEN ITS SPARK IS GONE

The early part of Saturday (last week) got me curiously wending my way through Boma Ward, the once famous and glistening Mbale suburb. Boma ward-commonly known as Senior quarters is found in Wanale Divison.
Many people, who grew up admiring the beauty and peace of this place, feel it has, in many ways, lost its sparkle.  To all appearances, they are right. For starters, Senior quarters, Mbale was and probably still is the hub of Mbale’s rich, more like what Kololo is to Kampala.
Therein, you will find residential homes for Mbale’s rich and famous. Stephen Wekomba, owner of Mt. Elgon Millers is on that A-list. He owns several rental houses and other buildings in the area.
Senior quarters is also home to several senior civil servants and many of Mbale’s upscale and affluent hotels, to wit Mbale Resort hotel, Crown Suites, Kayegi hotel and Mt Elgon hotel.

Senior quarters is also where you will find the famous Mbale Presidential lodge. It is a place almost every student wants to visit, especially when they know the President is around Mbale. Here you will also find Mbale’s most popular and classy night hangout spot, the Thatch gardens, owned by the famous Mbale Doctor, Dominic Martin Waburoko. Through the years, Thatch gardens has obtained a footing as Mbale’s number one happening place, hosting parties, concerts, weddings and conferences.

Whilst it is fair to state that Senior quarters has gotten more residents through the years, it is out of the question to state that it has improved infrastructure wise. Moving around, I bore witness to many of the quarter’s infamous poor roads. Many residents I had spoken to earlier had lamented about the poor state of the roads in the area, principally the road from the Presidential Lodge to town via the Resort Hotel. That evidently is not the only bad road here. The road from the Presidential Lodge to town via Mooni has also been in quite a sorry state for some time.
 “Good roads used to be this area’s claim to fame in the days of old. A little tarmac was laced on the road between Mooni to the area where Mount Elgon Hotel is located but it was substandard. The road was heavily pot holed, yet the President uses it whilst going to rest at the Lodge. Concerned residents speculated that the President’s vehicles have strong shock absorbers and he never felt the impact of the pot holes whenever his car rode through the road,” Fred Bwayo, a resident, says.


Sam Wamutu, Chairperson of the Boma ward development committee says a feasibility study has been done and the road, right from Mbale’s regional block is going to be worked on in due course.
All that awaits is the funds to be released, Wamutu adds.
 
The Senior quarters of today also has quite a number of old and dilapidated buildings.
“In the good old days, you would be hard pressed to find old and unpainted buildings in this area. There is increased apathy on the part of the owners of some of the old buildings” Bwayo says.



Lots of new buildings are being constructed but they are evidently juxtaposed with the old ones.
In the colonial days, Senior quarters housed the colonial administrators sent to Mbale to oversee the governance of the Eastern region. The area according to old Legend had state of the art recreational facilities wherein the colonial overseers invariably went to parlay.
“Senior quarters was unquestionably Mbale’s cleanest suburb, especially in the times when Mbale was the cleanest town in East Africa. It was serene and its lush greenery was second to none. Many people always wanted to come and visit on account of that. There were no old buildings and bad dusty roads as is the case today. The place lost its glory, just like Mbale town did,” states Wangota Khaukha, an elder in Mooni, an area neighboring the quarters.

Tales are told also of how Semei Kakungulu used to frequent the quarters, often coming to consort with and consult the colonial masters. Kakungulu it is said planted many of the area’s existing eucalyptus trees, just like he did in many other areas in the East.
“The trees Kakungulu planted added to the beauty of Senior quarters. The road leading up to the Presidential Lodge was a boulevard, with well manured trees on each side. Obote as well was fond of Senior quarters. During his Presidency, he always visited and hosted visitors at the lodge. The road was in a good state in the 80’s. Much as the area has lost its splendor, we are happy Hotels like Resort and Kayegi have been taken root. Resort particularly is a modern hang out,” Khaukha says.


SCHOOLS
Senior quarters is also the place where you will find the famous Fairway Primary school.
Almost everybody who grew up in the early 90’s in the East heard of this prominent school. It was always in the best of the bunch academic wise.
Though it has lost some of its sparkle, it still stands in a good stead with many people.
“Fairway is one of the few schools existing in Senior quarters. Understandable being that the area is mostly residential. There is also Boma primary school and 4 to 5 other private schools,” Wamuttu says.

SECURITY
Security wise, Boma ward is safe and sound, albeit there have been sporadic incidents of crime reported, especially in areas neighboring less affluent suburbs like Mukhubu, Mooni and Busamaga. 
Wamutu says whilst there have been security lapses; the general peace of the area has not been compromised a lot.
“That problem is being looked into. Most of the area’s security problems are caused by thugs emanating from neighboring suburbs,” Wamutu says.

SANITATION
In terms of sanitation, the area has not done badly though Wamutu says they are waiting for the area’s sanitary sewer system to be connected to the main Namatala carriage system.


LAND PRICES

Though land prices have been fluctuating through the years, an acre of land in Senior quarters goes for about 150-200 million.

 

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Jun
19

BUDUDA GRAPPLING WITH A WATER CRISIS

Clean and safe drinking water is a hard to comeby commodity in many hard to reach and distant villages in Bududa District, Eastern Uganda. In many of the villages, water shortage is a part of daily life, notwithstanding the fact that Bududa is richly endowed with rivers and other abundant water resources.
Fresh water sources in villages like Bushegi, Bunabuniu in Bushika subcounty and Bunakasala in Bulucheke subcounty are few and far between. As I moved around, I noticed there were many abandoned and non functional domestic water points.
Many of the hilly area’s potential for water supply is principally through rain water harvesting. Making do with harvested water is not bad in itself, but the containers I saw the villagers using to collect water were far from clean. In effect, this puts the lives of villages at a risk of e-coli and water borne microbes associated with diarrrhoea.

When the dry season sets in, usually at the threshold of each year; the few water sources in villages like Bunanyuma, Bushegi and Bunakasala are left half dry or completely dry.
Most of the water springs and wells as it seems, dry up due to the drought.



The little water the villagers struggle to fetch is itself far from clean but that does not seem to bother the children and people I saw queuing up to draw water. Unwittingly, they also expose themselves to water borne pathogens, which the World Bank says contribute to the high child mortality rates world over.
According to water aid.org, 12,000 Ugandan children die each year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water.

These unprotected water springs are our lifeline. It is the only water we have, rationalised Piyo Kuloba, a resident of Bunakasala village. “What do you expect people here to do? They have no choice but to use the little spring water at their accessibility however unsafe it may be. The springs are not protected and there are no boreholes or piped water systems in most of the villages around Bunakasala. During the dry seasons, the situation exacerbates as villagers are compelled to move long distances to get water. Moving from a hilly area to fetch water downhill is a tall order. When the rains come, the situation in a way improves because people can at least harvest water, though most do not have big containers that can store water for long,” notes Kuloba.

Water from river Manafwa is also in high favour with many people especially those living alongside its banks. I bore witness as children from Namasho village in Bulucheke subcounty drew water from River Manafwa using dirty containers for home usuage. All the while, other children swam in the very water. My attempts to dissuade those drawing water fell on deaf ears. Seemingly, Domestic animals also pollute the river’s waters going by the animal excrete I saw near the river’s banks.

In 2010, a ministerial statement presented to Parliament revealed that River Manafwa was contaminated. Most of the pollution the statement noted was from human feaces emanating from the pit latrines constructed near the river. In many respects, water from river Manafwa is still unsafe for usuage considering the continuous dependence on the river’s water’s for activities such as bathing and washing. That in essence means people living along the river’s banks are invariably at risk of water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, skin diseases, eye infections and infestinal diseases like schistosomiasis.

In some parts of Bududa, ill advised traditional attitudes still govern the usage of water, especially water from river Manafwa Unboiled water from the river is traditionally thought of as tastier than treated water. As such some people would rather drink it, than treated or boiled water.
“Many people use river Manafwa as a primary source of water. It is used for household consumption because people have waited for the piped water and the gravity water systems in this area as promised by the government for long. The government needs to redeem its pledge to build a gravity water system from the nearby mt. Elgon area. That needs to be fast tracked. The ignorant belief that water from river Manafwa is more tastier has been there but that can be stemmed through concerted educative drives in the villages concerned,” notes Wilson Wangota, an elder in Kushu village, Bulucheke subcounty.


Families living in the hilly and distant areas are hard pressed in going downhill to fetch water. The problem is areas downhill are also grappling with problems of access to safe and clean water. There is almost no guarantee that one will find safe water when they head downhill.
The gap between Bududa’s population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and those with access has gotten wider through the years. Manifestly, Bududa is amongst the districts where safe water coverage is still hovering below the 64% national average and where access to safe water has stagnated.
Five years back the situation seemed better. 
A 2010 report by the Directorate of Water Development, Ministry of Water and Environment, showed that 66 % of Bududa’s population had access to safe and clean water.
Recent records from the Ministry of Water and Environment however paint a grim picture. Recent accounts show that access to safe water in Ugandan rural areas has stagnated at 65%, in the past two years, yet Uganda’s target is to increase access to safe water in rural areas to 77% in 2015 in line with its millennium development goals.




“The government’s investment in the water sector especially in the rural areas needs to be improved. Interventions also need to be fast tracked especially when people are facing a problem like it is in Bududa. The government as well needs to invest in water purification schemes for the rural areas. Communities should be helped to protect their wells. Access to safe water is a critical disease prevention investment and a recipe for good health. It can go a long way in helping communities in Bududa and other areas around the country to confront the health based poverty trap. With the construction of the first phase of the Bududa-Nabweya Gravity Water Flow Scheme, there will hopefully be a new lease of life in the above sectors,” says John Okumu, a water and sanitation engineer in Manafwa.

According to UN Water.org, Investments in water and sanitation services result in substantial economic gains. The return on investment of attaining universal access of improved drinking-water is estimated to be 2 to 1. To cover every person worldwide with safe water and sanitation is estimated to cost US$ 107 billion a year over a five-year period.

The Bududa district Community Development Officer in charge of Water and Sanitation, Anthony Wakholi says the district in unison with the Government is working on a gravity water flow system, which will pump and generate water from Mt Elgon.
“Water will be supplied to different areas using this system. It will cover 6 sub counties, namely Bukigai, Bududa, Nabweya, Bushiribo, Bushiyi and Bulucheke. The district has developed protected springs, groundwater wells and gravity flow systems before in some sub counties like Bukibokolo. There is also the Bukalasa gravity flow scheme, which covers 3 sub counties. Drilling boreholes in hilly areas is a hard task. That explains why there are few of them. Rain water harvesting as recommended by the government has however been gaining currency amongst the people. As regards the usuage of water from river Manafwa, people do not do it on purpose. It is largely because they have no choice and because they are averse to messages dissuading them from using that water,” Wakholi says.

Wakholi however says some of the water problems in Bududa are sometimes brought about by the residents themselves.
“There is generally a problem of poor water supply management in some of the villages. Counterproductive activities like the cutting of underground water pipes in some villages has adversely affected the sector. These pipes transport water down from the hilly areas but certain mischievous people have continuously tampered with them. In some areas, people have continuously cut the water pipes to irrigate their crops,” Wakholi says.
 
Many people’s livelihoods have also been affected as a result of the lack of water in many of Bududa’s villages.
In Bunakasala for example, crop diversification has become a problem. Villagers barely grow crops that depend on rain or water to flourish. The lack of water has in some ways also led to a reduction in the usuage of land in many of the villages, though families still subsist on staple crops that grow without much rain.



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