JOURNALISTA.


Flash Floods and Rains Cut Off Northern and Eastern Uganda

Yesterday, President Museveni declared a state of emergency in Uganda. Heavy rains and flash floods have been hitting the whole continent since August, with floods hitting some of Africa’s most productive farmlands in fourteen countries in West, Central, and East Africa. Uganda is possibly the hardest hit of all the countries, experiencing the worst rains in 35 years. Museveni might be a bit late in declaring the national emergency; Ghana declared a national emergency last week. However, it’s important to note that he never declared a national emergency even during the worst moments of the LRA movement in Acholiland.
Timothy Kalyegira wrote in an opinion piece for the “Daily Monitor,” Uganda’s independent newspaper,
“But this was not rain. It was something maniacal. When you start getting 12 inches of rain in a week, it becomes the worst of nightmares. In this case, they are worst nightmares in living memory for Africa.”
The floods have washed away bridges and roads in a part of the country where decades of conflict (as well an overall economic policy that favors neoliberalism and military intervention in DR Congo and Somalia) have left a weak infrastructure in its place. As Uganda takes the difficult challenge of moving from ceasefire to reconciliation and long-term, sustainable development, it will need to invest in its precious infrastructure.
Serious flash floods are only adding fuel to an ongoing discussion on the implications of climate change in Uganda. Whether or not flooding is related to global warming, this is an important disussion. On the “New Vision” (a government-sponsored newspaper) online discussion board, reader Hugh Mason writes,

“Since many climatologists consider that global warming will lead to more frequent occurances of heavy rainfall leading to flooding in our part of the world, we need to be prepared for floods. What can be done will vary from place to place but in the first instance the government should examine the evidence from air photographs of the flooded areas to ascertain whether there are places where the relatively low cost deepening of channels will allow faster run off to the lakes or where the construction of a levee would keep the waters from flooding from a watercourse or channel over wide areas of farm land. Since such measures would probably only alleviate the problem in a few places, the government should investigate what is best practice in countries such as Bangla Desh which are frequently inundated and have long experience of getting relief to communities which are cut off by water. Having done this they should prepare contingency plans to deal with the next occasion of flooding.”

The World Food Program, a huge UN organization that is run entirely on voluntary donations, is currently asking for $65 million USD to stave off hunger for 300,000 flood victims, as well as refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are a large population in Northern and Eastern Uganda.

Is the flooding part of global warming phenomeneon? Is neoliberal policy working for Uganda’s infrastructure? Feel free to comment and shoot down/supplement/cheer on my thoughts.

(Picture from my mukwano Vasti Cedeno below, thanks!)

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What is Journalista?

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“Journalista” is designed to provide analysis of the political economies of countries in Africa’s Great Lakes region, particularly Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. My concerns include the impact of neoliberal economic policy on postcolonial states, the tensions between grassroots development and mainstream development by major development organizations in this region, and the dynamic and complex relationships between states in this region. I am also extremely interested in how external actors impact Africa’s Great Lakes region, such as transnational corporations, outside nations such as China and the United States, nonprofits and/or non-governmental organizations, and much more.
The phrase political economy is really gathering a lot of attention these days. My working definition of this concept is the interdisciplinary approach to understand the intersections of capitalism (and other economic models), government, and law. For example, a commodity analysis of coltan might illustrate the unregulated, informal, and devastated economy of the Eastern Congo; the relationship between mineral extraction and arms trading; child labor and resource exploitation, and the neocolonial relationship between the Congo and transnational corporations.
Political economy challenges the way economics is typically studied and is strengthened by its interdisciplinary approach which, for example, sees history in consumption patterns and economics in ethnic and gender dynamics.
I am using this blog to explore the field of interactive journalism through CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, and hope to bring a multi-media approach to my work in research and reporting.