Thomas Malthus, the economist, wrote an essay in 1798 titled An Essay on the Principle of Population. This essay expounded a tragic twin trajectory for the growth of human populations and the increase of food supply.
Whereas the natural tendency was for populations to grow without end, food supply would run out due to disasters and high demand against the limit of finite land. As a result, the positive checks of higher mortality caused by famine, diseases such as HIV/Aids, natural disasters like landslide, storms, floods and famine, floods, etc, could bring the number of people back in line with the capacity to feed them.
Amid an astonishing surge in food prices, which has sparked riots and unrest in many countries, Malthus’ faith in the ability of global markets to feed billions of human being began to fall as chronic shortages may have begun.
I am inclined to believe Malthus, who seems to tell us that there will always be divine intervention to eliminate sections of our population. Of course, the suffering and agony which is left after disasters is too much, agonising and sometimes we rush to make emotional decisions leading to irrational solutions. In case of the Bududa landslides disasters, I appreciate what the government has done in terms of emergency response. Some of my nephews come from Bududa highland and I thank God that they are all safe.
However, the long-term solution would be included in the national housing policy such that government should be proactive and build or cause to be built, sustainable and standard shelters/storeyed ones to save space, in what can be called Ujama Villages, in which to relocate the vulnerable communities. Otherwise, distributing money to victims to build their own shelters may naturally and corruptly lead to great misuse of scarce resources.
The government could construct the necessary standard social, economic and spiritual infrastructure in the Ujama Villages from where to rehabilitate the incoming migrants. From the Ujama Village home, the migrants can be taken to government land to carry on agriculture and other economic activities for wealth creation and better living than in the disaster-prone areas.
Paul S. Namubi,