After layover in London we arrived in Uganda. The weather was wonderful, dry and warm, much better than in New York that we left couple days ago. From the Entebbe airport we headed toward Kampala and after meeting our team from John Hopkins University we loaded into jeeps and hit the road to Mbale. We drove through tea plantations and rice fields, passing road markets and villages. It seems that Uganda leaves on the road strip, continuous and wavy, filled by people walking, biking, hanging to the trucks, motorcycles, carts, everything that can move and carry them and their goods to some unknown destination. Bananas, green and yellow, sugar cane, dry grass, cassava, goats and chicken, sorgum, rice and charcoal filled the road with bright colors and variety of textures. We arrived in Mbale at night.
One of my friends send me a note that people stay in hazardous areas just because it is their home. It makes sense. However if your home becomes a mass grave then the sense dissapears. The home is gone. I feel that I dwell into something that is outside of my geologic background. Social science? Demography? Politics? In 1935, after deadly Florida hurricane, Ernest Hemingway wrote a heartbreaking article “Who murdered the Vets?” He wrote there: “…..Who sent nearly a thousand war veterans, many of them husky, hard-working and simply out of luck, but many of them close to the border of pathological cases, to live in frame shacks on the Florida Keys in hurricane months? …..It is hurricane months, sure, but if anything comes up, you can always evacuate them, can’t you?” Uganda is not a Florida and we are not living in 1935. But does this makes human matters different?
Just before going to Uganda I started looking at situation with floods and landslides. On the back of my mind is another project in northwestern Alaska, where village of Kivalina experiences drastic erosion and has high risk of being flooded. Two places, separated by almost 67 degree latitude. Both are highly influenced by geologic hazards. In both places relocation is a possible answer. Why people stay in hazardous places? We still need to answer this question.
Links related to landslides and relocation of people in Uganda:
Links to Kivalina:
This is my first post on this blog. My name is Yuri Gorokhovich. I am Assistant Professor at Lehman College, Department of Environmental, Geographic and Geologic Sciences, City University of New York. Together with our geology major student Mr. Tahjib Zaman we join a team from John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health to investigate geologic factors and socio-demographic consequences of floods and landslides in Uganda that occured this year on March 2 – 4. Our work will take place in provinces Butaleja and Buduba between June 30 – July 18th.
More information on floods and landslides that we plan to assess can be found at: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2010.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/SKEA-83CKF4-full_report.pdf/$File/full_report.pdf