Month: September 2013
By Abenaitwe Cliff
At the mention of Gold presence in an area, wealth expectations justifiably increase and when its mining is on, the area ought to change for the better. However, the story is different in Geita district located in the North Western part of Tanzania where gold mining has been taking place for over 50 years now.
Poor sanitary conditions, shanty dusty towns and trading centres, use of rudimentary tools, high population growth rate, high rate of rural urban migration, high number of idle youth and poor sanitation are a characteristic of Geita district located over 700 kilometres North of the capital Dar es Salaam.
In 1999, Angro-Gold Ashanti(GGM as it is popularly known)- a giant mining company got a license to mine gold the area something that gave the residents most of whom were engaged in small scale mining hope for a brighter future. “When GGM came in, we thought large scale well managed gold production will increase and the whole area will develop,” says Barutwanayo Bernard, a native of Nyakabale in Geita district.
According to Baruntwanayo, the residents expected the company to provide them with jobs, contribute to the social welfare of the area through it taxes, fees and loyalties but this is still a dream after over 10 years.
On reaching the district’s main town of Geita, the streets are dusty, the schools along the road are in a poor state, people live in poor houses and a big number of youth can be seen on the streets idle as early as noon. “Our lives have not changed at all. I have tried to get a job in the mines but all in vain and this is the same situation with all my friends. If you do not know anyone in the mines or if you do not have money to bribe, you cannot get a job there”, a visibly worried young man Baraka Butundo noted adding that the mine owners usually get their own laborers from as far as Dar es Salaam.
Authorities in this relatively new district share the same view. Manzie Mangochie the District Commissioner reveals that the mining company pays only 200,000 dollars annually as loyalty fee to the district a figure which is like a drop in the ocean. “This money is little compared to the population, the size of the district and the needs of our people,” Mangochie told a group of journalist under the revenue watch program at his office in Geita town.
According to the jolly Mangochie, much as GGM pays taxes to the government, its direct relevance to the area is still a dream.
Though the situation is not desirable something can be done on the legislative front. “We need to change on the laws concerning the mining sector. There is a need to empower local leaders and communities to have a say in mining contracts because it’s their areas to gain or lose,” he elaborated.
These photos were taken from different areas of Geita district to show the situation on the ground.
Crimean–Congo Hemorrhagic Fever: Uganda Government in For Mass Tick Spray in Agago
Cliff Abenaitwe, September 2, 2013
Government is to roll out a massive spray against ticks in Agago district as the fight against the deadly Crimean Congo fever intensifies.
According to the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Doctor Asuman Lukwago, the Ministry is working with the Veterinary Department of the Ministry of Agriculture to roll out the campaign but does not reveal when this will kick-start. “What we found so unique in Agago is the high level of tick infestation. We are now working with the Veterinary Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and other stake holders to organize a spray,” Lukwago told this site in an exclusive interview adding that even President Yoweri Museveni has already made a directive on the new ways of controlling ticks.
He explained that it has been discovered ticks tend to develop resistance against acaracides (animal sprays) when a farmer uses one type over a long time. “This information was not known that acaracides have a span of activity which is about three years so it is now advised that after three years, a farmer should change the acaracide type,” Lukwago said.
Despite the above arrangements, Lukwago is also confident that the outbreak will be contained. “The situation is under control. We have only three cases in the country. One confirmed positive person is admitted at Mulago hospital while two other are under surveillance at Kalongo hospital in Agago district” he explained.
Early last month (August), the Ugandan Ministry of Health confirmed the outbreak of the Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever in Amot Sub-County, Agago district. Since then, one person has died and surveillance has been heightened.
The disease is caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairo-Virus) which causes severe haemorrhagic fever and kills up to 40 percent of people infected. It is spread by wild and domestic animals and is transmitted to humans through bites of infected ticks.
According to World Health Organization and Ministry of Health, a person who is infected with the disease may present with headache, high fever, back pain, joint muscle pain and bleeding from body parts. Other signs and symptoms may include stomach ache, red eyes, red throat and vomiting.
Much as most of these signs resemble those of Ebola which once claimed scores in Uganda, health experts and organisations say the two viral diseases are different.