Environment

Zika outbreak: The mosquito menace

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The mosquito, Aedes aegypti, imagesis causing widespread fear in Brazil where it is spreading the Zika virus that has been linked to thousands of babies being born with birth defects.

So what do we know about it?

It loves our cities

This is not some jungle-dwelling insect that rarely comes into contact with people.

It is one of those animals, like cockroaches, pigeons and urban foxes, that thrives in built-up areas.

It does not need natural water sources to breed as it can lay eggs in the small and plentiful pools of stagnant water, such as gutters or flower pots, found in cities . Read more

 

Countries Where Rats Are On The Menu

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While rats are met with revulsion in most parts of the world, some communities put rodents pride of place on the dinner menu.

Before going to sleep, you ought to make sure no food is left forgotten somewhere on the floor or table. rttOtherwise, you may end up with some familiar and unwelcome guests: rats. Just a glimpse of a furry rodent is enough to inspire revulsion and complaints to authorities – for example, New York has recently renewed efforts to solve a ‘rat crisis’ in the city. But such guests are not despised everywhere. In fact, in some places around the world, rats are considered a delicious delicacy.On 7 March every year……. (read more)

The Gold- Poverty Paradox of Geita- An Inside Story

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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.

Geita district commissioner Manzie Mangochie talking to journalists under the revenue watch program at his office.
Geita district commissioner Manzie Mangochie talking to journalists under the revenue watch program at his office.

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.

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This is Geita town. Potholed roads, dust and poor houses are typical characteristics of the town that is sitting on gold.

These photos were taken from different areas of Geita district to show the situation on the ground.

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A cross section of Geita town. You will all agree with me, this place doesnot look gold.

 

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Part of Geita town-a stone throw away from the vast gold mine.

 

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The quality of people’s houses outside Geita town leaves alot to be desired

 

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Many young and energetic youth are unable to get jobs in the mines. They resort to this economic activity of crushing stones they steal from the GGM mining area to get gold from them.That is how they earn a living.

 

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One of the journalists looking on as one of the residents in the outskirts of the GGM gold mine crushes the stones looking for gold.

 

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This is Nyakabale village near the main gold mine. Locals in this area live in poor conditions.

 

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Looking for survival at all costs.These people in Geita are looking for gold from soil deposits.

 

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Its not only the youth but even the old women. This arises questions over the agricultural productivity in this area. Observers think these ladies should be in gardens as the youth look for money.

 

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The technology used by small scale miners is too rudimentary.

 

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This photo is of a collection of homesteads in Nyakabale village which is occupied by small scale and illegal miners.

 

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Small scale miners use dangerous methods in their quest for Gold. In this photo, mercury is mixed in the sad in the process of gold seeking. Health experts reveal that mercury is dangerous to human life

 

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With increased influx of people looking for opportunities in the gold mines, such houses and towns are expected to come-up.

 

Residents Warned Over River Encroachment

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Residents Warned Over River Encroachment

Cliff Abenaitwe

July 2, 2012

Environmentalists in Western Uganda are expressing concern over the persistent encroachment on river banks.  They say this must stop to avert problems like reduction of the river water levels, silting of the rivers as well as environmental degradation.

Some of the rivers and streams adversely affected by the act include River Rwizi and River Kagera in Western Uganda.

River Rwizi water has subsequently changed due to human activity along the River

Jeconius Musingwire the national Environmental management authority (NEMA) focal person in western Uganda says the need for agricultural land, sand quarrying, over grazing and charcoal burning, have caused more harm than good to the banks of river Rwizi.

He adds that such human activities have led to far-reaching effects. “ The water levels are reducing every now and again which means that towns like Mbarara that use piped water pumped from River Rwizi will face acute water shortages especially in the dry spell more than ever” Musingwire adds.

He explicates that as the result of human activity, soils from upstream end up in the river because of the bare banks causing silting.

Action Plan

Despite the damage already inflicted, the good news is that the situation is reversible.

“We need adopt environment conservation practices to save our land from the effects of climatic change” Musingwire advises.

Protection of the River banks is everyone’s responsibility and it is achievable.

He explains that protecting the river banks through planting of trees on the already damaged banks as well as in the upstream areas and implementing environmental policies and legislations will save the country from a looming catastrophe.

Planting trees especially in hilly areas is a big step forward in environmental conservation.