The ongoing rain has once again sparked off reports of floods and mudslides claiming lives and destroying property. Local leaders make appeals to government, humanitarian agencies and men and women of goodwill to extend a helping hand. The government promises funds to relocate the flood and or mudslide victims. And nearly everyone knows that history will continue to repeat itself unless government and everyone else decides to do things differently.
Heavy rains are a fact of life the in mountainous districts such as in Bududa and Bundibugyo. It is only in recent times that flash floods and mudslides have become more common. The immediate cause of the floods and mudslides seems not to be heavy rain, but surface run off, rapid water flows on bare ground, etc. In reality, climate has changed, arising from loss of forest/vegetation cover.
It is now well known that forests absorb rain better than grasslands or farmlands.
This happens in a number of ways: First, tree canopies slow down the speed of rain drops, reducing their impact when they hit the ground. As a result, they reduce the risk of run off.
Second, tree roots tend to make the soil more dry and porous, so that it soaks the rain water better compared to bare ground. Forest floor mulch also acts like a sponge, which increases rain water absorption.
Therefore, what we should be doing is obvious. All we need are men and women of goodwill to step up and ensure that in 10 years from now, we don’t repeat the same charade of pretending to care.
All faith leaders, cultural leaders, business leaders, and political leaders, among others, should be championing mass re-afore station at every opportunity. Creative minds can and will figure out how to educate our people about the importance of re-aforestation. No amount of relocation of people will make a difference. All you need to know is the size of our population as well as the population growth rate.
No amount of disaster relief planning will make a difference. Not with the high level of thefts of public funds. So let our leaders at whatever level come forward and promote the one thing that will work: Mass re-forestation.