Coming back from Nametsi and Butaleja: more questions than answers …

After spending two weeks on mapping floodplains and landslides, measuring river discharges we return back to New York. I always ask students in my geology class when we discuss hydrology:”What do you thinkI do first when I come back home to NY from abroad?” Nobody answered correctly so far.  The answer is simple. I come home and pour water from my faucet in the kitchen into large glass, then drink it slowly with pleasure. In my trips to Ukraine, Greece, Peru, Uganda, Rwanda, Belorussia, Thailand and many other countries I found that people do not drink tap water because of possible pollution. It is not safe anymore. Everywhere I was confronted with necessity to get bottled water to drink and brush my teeth. The value of pure water that we have here in New York is enormous. I am not sure if everybody appreciate this, but I do. Often, when you travel far you discover new precious things at home.

The question about floods in Butaleja and landslides in Nametsi is still in my mind. What do we know more now than before our trip? It is too early to make any conclusion but gathered in the field information helps proposing a hypothesis that despite usual attitude of “blaming nature” we should look into our own actions and history. Roads in Butaleja across flood plains and rice management schemes are possible agents of increased flood magnitude; absence of drainage systems, water leakages into landslide prone areas and poor terracing on 50-70 degree slopes in Bududa (where Nametsi village is) are possible agents of increased landslide risk. In both cases the water that we drink and use for crops, water that gives life to everything on the Earth is both, blessing and curse in this small central African country. Why it is so? The questions are waiting to be answered.

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One Response to Coming back from Nametsi and Butaleja: more questions than answers …

  1. Ian Anderson says:

    Glad to hear that you made it safely home!

    I so agree with you about the value of clean water, in my first year in Bududa (not too far from Nametsi) I lived catching the water from the roof and storing it in 100ltr tubs (considered a luxury!). The past two years I have been living in rural New Zealand with a catchment tank too.

    Now, even though I live in water rich Norway, the sound of a running tap still makes me wince!!!

    Re: Nametsi. I look forward to hearing your conclusions, I always blamed over cultivation and removal of trees. Over simplistic I know but it was 10 years ago and I was ‘young’ and inexperienced. I hope that your findings can help in the future. Let me know if you need any help, although it sounds like you also found some helpful people during your stay.

    Kindest regards

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