Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
With the NRM in power from 1986 to the present the lecture turned to discussing the new features of the NRM government. The first feature of NRM rule has been a “no party democracy.” Until 2005 political parties in Uganda were outlawed due to the belief that political parties are instigators for the political issues in the past. As a result the NRM only allowed movements, or groups that would provide a manifesto that everyone could get behind. As opposed to political parties that only accommodate a select number of supporters. Though this may have been the idea in theory, in practice they over time have become less accommodating to all. Another feature of the NRM governance has been a pressured Judiciary. Though the Constitution established by the NRM gives judges the power to independently decipher cases they received a lot of pressure to fulfill the wishes of the executive. With threats to strip benefits and prevent contracts from being renewed, judges are sometimes pressured to side one way in a particular case. Another feature of the NRM governance is decentralization. During the time of the NRM, 80 districts were created within Uganda and within each of those districts are local governments. However, with the divisions of the districts some do not have sufficient resources to carry out these powers. The last feature was the corruption within government. Uganda is ranked very high in terms of corruption and officials are known to steal large sums of government money.
The last section of the lecture provided possible remedy to the troubles in current regime. One part to the remedy is giving the police more power to arrest these corrupted officials. It was argued that corruption should be treated more like a crime than a moral matter and something must be done to shame the corrupt.
My question to the students concerning the lecture is do you think the NRM has taken Uganda further towards or further away from a democracy?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today was our first and only full day in Jinja. After a restful night sleep of fearing snakes, spiders, bugs and other creatures sleeping with us we headed out and visited the source of the Nile and the Bujagali Falls. At the source of the Nile there was a monument for Mahatma Gandhi in honor of having his ashes immersed in the Nile upon his death in 1948. The source of the Nile is Lake Victoria and it flows 4000 miles to the Mediterranean Sea.
On the bus ride over to the source of the Nile we learned that Uganda has only one Hydro Damn that harnesses the power of the source for electricity. It was very shocking that they only have one Hydro Damn in Uganda, especially considering the electricity problem they have here. They have so many resources that they could be using that they’re just not. Do you think that the negative environmental factors outweigh the benefit that resources like the Nile could bring to the country?
The next place we went to was the Bujagali Falls, a beautiful waterfall along some powerful rapids. The thing I found most surprising was talking to Prof. Bishop about how only a few years ago the location was almost free of tourist and only a few body surfers braved the wild rapids, and today the place was packed and we saw at least 9 rafts full of tourist head down the wild rapids. It’s a sign that tourism is growing in Uganda which is a good source of income for the country, but is it really a good thing that one of nature’s untouched beauties has now been overrun with tourism? This reminds me of the resort we went to on Lake Bunyonyi and how beautiful and untouched it was. A lake like that in the US would be overrun with speed boats and lake homes. So I guess my question is how can/should Uganda utilize the benefit of tourism for the country while still maintaining the untouched beauty of the country?
Friday, June 12, 2009
I want to take the opportunity to say thank you to many people who make this experience possible.
I think I also speak for Prof Bishop and Prof Senteza when I say that the students from both universities did a fabulous job of discussion and reflection this year. In every visit you represented your respective institutions with class. Many of our speakers and hosts commented to us on the quality of your questions and your intellectual curiosity. Thank you also for your patience with logistics and not complaining when our schedule was disrupted or delayed. I enjoyed spending the last three weeks with you all.
Next I want to thank all of the MUBS faculty and staff for their hard work in helping this experience become a reality for the students from both universities. The success of the program is a reflection of your efforts and dedication. This trip is not possible without your efforts. I look forward to working with you all in the future as our programs continue to evolve.
Finally I want to thank my colleagues from Drake and Des Moines who provide support for the program and help in planning, budgeting, and executing the program. And a final thanks to Profs Bishop, Senteza, and McKnight who I have enjoyed working with the last three years.
I look forward to working with all of you as we start the planning process for next year!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I was touched to see tears in some people's eyes...i really looked hard and saw some of you who weren't eager to get to the airport...there is this saying" all good things come to an end"...to me " this good end means a better return". I hope you all come back to Uganda at some future point.
Am curious Guys...what would you recomend that the US government and People do for People in Uganda?Let's take for instance the Rural folks you visited...how would you help them to be self sustaining? I would like us to suggest the way forward but also be of practical help to these people.
I believe the problems in Africa are not as a result of Colonialism, Capitalism or Money!!!!. The Problem in Africa is about Systems of Political Governance, Corruption & Greed,Underutilisation of resources,equitable distribution of resources,erosion of African Culture and failure of International Community to fight for human rights.
I will really love to read from you regarding above.
Safe Flight Back Home/Bon Voyage
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We had a buffet lunch in the park with more traditional Ugandan food (and the best pineapple I've ever tasted!) and then walked to the eduation center for a short lecture on the logistics of the park, on conservation education, and on the park's community involvement, which I was very impressed with. Our lecturer stressed how important it is to their conservation efforts to educate people and to have the cooperation of the local and neighboring communities. They keep the neighboring communities involved through collaborative management and signed agreements. Queen Elizabeth National Park also puts 20 percent of their profit into social programs and facilities for those communities.
After the lecture we went for a double-decker boat safari and saw more elephants, some crocodiles, African birds, buffalo, and I think enough fat hippos to last most of us until our next trip to Africa. We concluded our trip with a game drive in our bus. We were fortunate to see real, wild lions (!!) in the distance. We also saw elephants, warthogs, and lots of antelope. We had a great guide with a keen eye for spotting animals really far away. He was also very knowledgeable about the animals in the park and would fill us in about the lives that the animals we were seeing live.
Environmental conservation is areally important part of sustainable development; and until our trip to Western Uganda, it was somethign we hadn't talked much about. Sustainavble development began as a theory that combined economic development with environmnental conservation. It was the idea that people could meet their needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. To develop sustainably, then, Uganda must conserve and replace natural resources at the rat at which they are depleting them.
For environmental efforts to be successful, there must be social support. For there to be social support, the people must be educated about the issues and have the capacity to show concern. The Queen Elizabeth National Park conservation committe is committed to educating youth and communities in and around the national park about conservation. This is great and really important, but it leaves me wondering abut the rest of the country. Think about all of the people we drive by in Kampala, and about those working in the Owino Market. Then think about those in rural villages with no access to the news or information about any social issues in Uganda or the world. I bet most of these people are not educated about environmental issues, and many may not have the 'luxury' to have or show concern for the environment when they are struggling to meet their own basic needs and the needs of their families. Do you think it is possible for Uganda to make a collaborative and successful effort to preserve its environment in today's society? If it is not possible, then one would argue that Uganda may be able to develop economically, but not sustainably (in the full meaning of sustainable). If it is possible, what needs to be done?
Now that our departure is fast upon us, it seems like there is no way that we've been here two and a half weeks. When we got here it seemed like we had all the time in the world. We studied everything from agriculture to government corruption to AIDS, and although it seems like I know almost everything on the subject, I know there is so much more to learn. I can't help but admit that I leave Uganda with a bit of a heavier heart than when I entered. Despite all the hard work we have witnessed here and all of the resilient people we were fortunate to meet, we also saw first-hand that developing this nation in any sort of fashion (let alone sustainably) is an incredible battle. A lot of the time the government isn't only failing to aid and support its people, but it is the biggest roadblock that exists. I am not pessimistic enough to think that the battle is lost, mainly because I have met people like Provia who have huge hearts and big ambitions. I know that progress can and will be made, but I also know that our MUBS colleagues have a long road ahead of them. I wish them luck and success in all of their endeavors.
As for my Drake peers... thank goodness the trip is almost over and I can get some time away from a bunch of crazies. (just kidding). As an incoming transfer student, I am grateful and feel extremely lucky to have gotten to know each of them. There is nothing quite like the Oweno market, long bus rides on Big Blue, and large amounts of matooke to bring together a bunch of strangers.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Today we had a lazy start to the day by sleeping in and getting checked out of Red Chili (*tear). The thoughts of leaving Uganda are starting to become a reality. While some are ready, many wish their experience could be extended. I think those closest to me know my opinion on the matter :). After lunch at MUBS, we went and exchanged shillings for dollars and then headed out to Jinga. On the way to Jinja, we made a quick pit stop to pick up a mechanic for Prof. Senteza and arrived at Kingfisher around 7. We enjoyed supper around 8 and had the night to do what we pleased. Overall, I would personally say they day moved by just as fast as any of our other busy days, even though we did not do a whole lot.
One thing that I noticed on the drive here was a stark contrast in the road conditions from Kampala to Jinja compared to most of our previous journeys. Usually we have to navigate around potholes and get stuck behind slower vehicles until its safe to pass. Today we had four lanes for most of the trip and there were even painted lines on the roads. I have been closely noting the transportation system in Uganda during our stay and I feel like the nice roads today were not a random coincidence. I feel like the highway was nicer here because if you keep going east, you will run into Kenya--one of the more developed African countries. I think Uganda and its merchants have figured out that their success is directly proportional to Kenya's involvement. Does anyone else have any observations or opinions as to why the roads leading east would be a lot nicer than the roads leading west (such as the road to Mbarara)? Or do you recognize any other benefits to having a nicer road that connects the capital city of Uganda to Kenya?
We leave today for Jinja where we spend our last couple of days in Uganda. There may be a smaller number of updates, I think that last year we realized the internet was not as easily accessible there. However, that might have changed , we will see. Students have promised to record their thoughts and post after returning home late this week, so keep checking back, even after we have returned!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Today we had an extremely busy and fun-filled day. We started off in the morning with a lecture at MUBS about Democratization, then we moved onto the Botanical Center in Entebbe, and finished it up with a lovely dinner at the home of the Chairman of MUBS.
In my life I’ve never seen a spider as big as I had, in its natural habitat, here at the Botanical Center. After arriving at the Botanical Center and walking around for about thirty to forty-five minutes we stumbled upon the Dragon Spider. These spiders were about the size of a human hand that’s fully stretched open. Once our guide finished telling us about the spiders we tested its speed and agility by throwing a small ant into its web. The yellow and black spider zipped across the web and snatched up the ant without hesitation or fault. Since it was so small it didn’t bother spinning it up for later and just ate the ant as it was.
Within the Botanical Center there were many other interesting plant findings. As we approached the cinnamon tree we expected to be overwhelmed by a scent of cinnamon, but to no avail. However, upon simply crumbling one of its fallen leaves, or crumbled bark, in your hands the scent of cinnamon enveloped you. Amongst the other interesting plants were the two-hundred year old Mahogany Tree, the “Viagra” Tree (I name it this because our guide told us that this tree has a strong part in the production of Viagra), the Umbrella Tree, and many more.
Upon finished up at the Botanical Center we headed over to the home of the Chairman of MUBS, with a short break in between the two events. When we arrived at his home we were immediately welcomed and greeted by some of the other faculty at MUBS. Eventually, we all got comfortable and the introductions began. Everybody introduced themselves, and then the chairman spoke. He knew that we were studying sustainable development and geared his speech towards that subject. He noted that in the development of the new addition to the side of his house they go through quite a bit of scaffolding, which he said were made from the long branches of a Eucalyptus Tree. After they’re done using them, he said, they have to burn them because they have no more use. He found this to be rather wasteful. Then he stated a very fitting quote, “When you cut down one tree, you must plant two more.” And with that he lead us to his driveway where he had us plant 20 new trees in our name. He told us that when they get a little bigger he was going to put each of our names on our respective tree that we planted. When we finished our short sustainable development project we had a very fine dinner and then headed home after grabbing a few avocados from his farm.
After having spent plenty of time in Mbarara we should all now understand the “Pearl of Africa” analogy. Africa, and Uganda especially, have so much to offer as far as their natural environments go, and it would be a tragedy to see any of it affected negatively. With that in mind what simple things, like planting trees, could we be doing to encourage sustainable development and promote a healthier environment? And lastly, how has today affected your view of sustainable development.
After taking our amazingly small bus on an unimaginable road, we made it to the dinner. Many people attended the banquet outside of Kampala. University officials, board members, deans, and staff joined our group in a delicious layout of African cuisine. Students all sat on mats made out of leaves - picnic style. The highlight of the evening for me was when the Collin, the Chairman, invited us to each plant a tree - replacing ones that he has cut down. Collin was adding on a beautiful addition to his home (with a view.) The "scaffolding" used in Uganda consists of cutting down trees, using them once, and disposing of it. Collin believes his area will boom with houses in the near future and wanted to create a boulevard of trees. Twenty trees were planted, with each of the Drake names on them.
The chairman was extremely welcoming and genuine. He was proud of what he had and I believe he truly enjoyed having us enjoy ourselves. He even let each of us pick an avacado from his garden to take with us. This was definately a part of the trip that will be cherished forever.
Friday, June 5, 2009
The way home consisted of another stop at the equator where we were able to buy some souvenirs. And that last was at the crocodile farm. We saw several different crocodiles at all different stages in their life, but the one that seemed to attract the most attention was the enormous one that supposedly has killed quite a few people. Watching the chicken be eaten was definitely a highlight. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to watch because it is cruel but you can’t get yourself to turn your eyes away. The way it ate that chicken so fast was pretty terrifying. Overall a good trip home with a fun filled day. What were your thoughts about the primary school? Things you liked, didn’t like or were surprised by?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
We began with an all school assembly, being welcomed by some very excited children. A question and answer portion followed, with questions coming from both the children and our group. We then split into smaller groups and had an opportunity to see a couple of classrooms and have more one-on-one experiences. Speaking with the headmistress led me to much information on the logistics of such a school yet I was excited to get back to the children. They were so innocent and excited to ask questions, tell us about themselves, and most of all – have their pictures taken. While some Drake students chose to ‘cuddle’ with a young child, others enjoyed being surrounded and having conversations. It was a sad goodbye, with only one child trying to make a getaway by joining us on the bus.
I about broke down in tears when a child told me he was an orphan and asked if I could sponsor him. The government was going to stop providing money for him to go to school, and he has no one else. What was the most touching part of your day at the primary school?
The rest of the journey back to Kampala included a second stop at the equator for shopping. We then visited “Croc Camp,” a crocodile farm. The owner gathers the eggs from a local ‘park’ with the help of a park ranger, incubates the eggs, raises the crocs until the age of three, skins them and sells their skin at the market in Kampala. He currently has over 3,000 crocs. The students quickly discovered that if they bought a chicken, we could watch the largest crocodile have lunch. It didn’t take long to gather 6,000/= (approx $3) for the purchase of a chicken from the local village. Some looked on with amazement while others (ie. Dr. Bishop) had looks of concern.
Another long bus ride completed. I recommend asking the MUBS students to tell you a bedtime story next time we’re on the bus. They recall stories from when they were young; they are both entertaining and give an excellent example of the culture of Africa.
Today, we traveled to the Queen Elizabeth National Park. On our way to the park, James showed us tealeaf plantations, which were a new type of agriculture for us to see here in Uganda. Finally approaching the park, we were greeted by a group of baboons who were hanging out alongside the road. Right after this encounter, we saw a family of elephants munching on some trees. This was a fresh, new experience. It was the first time most of us have seen these animals living in their wild, natural setting.
We ate some lunch at the park- traditional Ugandan food, and then went to the lecture at the Queen Elizabeth National Park education center. On our way to the center, we spotted lion footprints! Also, a cute little chameleon was found crossing the road. At this lecture, we learned about the history of the park, techniques they use, and challenges they face in conservation management.
After this lecture, we went on a nice, relaxing but exciting two-hour boat ride on a double-decker boat in the Kazinea channel. We saw lots of hippos, crocs, and birds. The African Fish Eagle was spotted as well. To end the day on the perfect note, we took a safari in our bus around the park. We spotted a lion, which was what we all were looking forward to seeing, and watched her for a while until we noticed her move to her cubs located near her in the savannah. The tour guide was very helpful and informative. We headed back to LakeView hotel, more than satisfied with our visit to the national park.
I was wondering what your favorite part of the day was? What was your favorite animal or event that took place?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
After the lecture we went on the game trail and were able to see a few different animals. We saw antelope, boar, and some zebra. We even were able to get out of the bus at one point and take pictures next to a boar. There are 70 different species on the reserve as explained by Noel. The most common animals are the antelope, zebra, and topi. We arrived back to the hotel around 4 pm and had the rest of the day free. Some went swimming, had massages, walked down into the town, or just relaxed. Overall what were your guys thoughts of the day? I know some have experienced safaris in other countries. How do they compare? Is it what you expected?
Monday, June 1, 2009
Mr. Guweddeko farms both food and cash crops. His food crops include: matooke (bananas), cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, maize, sorghum, beans, and ground nuts. What surprised me the most, was that all his food crops go to feeding his family and friends. One of the major difference between families in the US these days and the families in the villages of Uganda is that in the villages your family is considered to be all your relatives which can include anyone from grandchildren, aunts, cousins and everyone in between, not to mention that it is not uncommon for a family to have 10 children. Where in the US the family you provide for is normally the Mother and Father and their children, and most families in the US typically only have 2 or 3 children.
Where Mr. Guweddeko earns his profit from is his cash crops, which include cocoa, pineapple, and his coffee nursery. I was really amazed by the coffee nursery and all the hard work that goes into the process of planting the 50,000 seedlings that he cares for until it is time to sell them off to other farmers. It is very inspiring all the hard work and determination the villagers have and the pride they have in their land.
Another matter that surprised me was when Mr. Guwededdeko mentioned that Gobal Warming has caused a noticeable difference to his farming. He mentioned that they now experience longer dry seasons and destructive storms and hail when the rain does come. He said that over 10 years ago they were able to make definitive production plans based on the genuine weather forecasts that enabled them to plant in time, and now they are unable to adjust to the ever changing weather and climate. He also mentioned the problem of new crop diseases that sometimes can be so bad that they result in total loss, and he is unsure whether this problem could be linked to the first or not.
My favorite part of the day was when we went back down into the village to have dinner and while we were waiting the grandchild of the farmers we toured with performed for us and it was truly heartwarming to see their smiling faces. Then when we toured the village before leaving we had a swarm of small children following us and then they later chased after the bus as we drove off. I was sad to leave. It was a great day in rural Uganda.
I know we have all experienced some form of culture shock while we’ve been here in Uganda and maybe more during the rural visit as suppose to the time spent in the more modernized area of Kampala. So my question is what resemblance of home have you seen (particularly during the rural visit)? And what will you miss most once you return home?
Today, we had a day full of busing, watching Scott almost die, and the beauty that is the “Switzerland of Africa.”
One of the things I have been focusing on this trip is the transportation and its inefficiency, along with how the poor conditions of the roads negatively affect the people of Uganda, and also the country’s economy. Today we spent about 8 hours in the bus and it was extremely rough. Multiple times my butt bounced inches off the cushions. I have had discussions with a couple of you on your take on the roads, but was wanting a few more opinions. The roads and the transportation system in general are very crappy. Trips that would take an hour in the US, can end up taking three hours in Uganda. Vehicles need to stop and swerve often to avoid potholes and road bumps. The roads are also two-lane, making passing uncomfortable at times. The lack of efficiency is definitely increasing transportation costs, making goods more expensive to the public. Also, it is a huge downside to Uganda’s developing tourism industry. These reasons, along with the obvious frustrations of personally traveling on these roads raises a question: What else is it going to take for Ugandans to become more proactive? Djamila ignorantly confronted the IGG with no basis for her claim. What does it take for some Ugandans to get organized and make a strike on the government because of the problems or try to pass some legislation through their local representative? I don’t know the answer, but I was wondering if any of you did.
Bunyonyi Resort almost was a honeymoon location to where we have been so far. It had beautiful cottages and a multitude of tents that were quit secluded. The resort sits right along the lake, so all the views were beautiful. After lunch we took a nice boat ride to view the islands and stopped at one to get another look at the rolling hills. Standing on the islands made you feel quit small in comparison to what was around you. To see all the different pieces of farm land scatter along the hills was amazing. Provia explained how farm owners own only small plots in several different areas and do all the work by manual labor which makes for difficult days. This would be opposite from what we saw on our rural visit. Along the way a few of the resort managers explain their business and what they have to offer.
They were very generous, as they cooked us full traditional Ugandan meal. Except it has been our first Ugandan meal without matooke, and I can’t lie I almost wanted some.
My question for the students would be: Where should tourism in Uganda go to help them further develop?
The second farmer, Robert Senyonga, was incredibly successful as well. He is an example of the possibilities that can arise when farmers take advantage of NAADS, a government-sponsored agricultural program. By participating in this program, he has managed to purchase ten acres, implement new techniques, and grow an amazing range of crops from yams and bananas to corn and sugarcane. Robert farms all ten acres on his own, with help only from his wife and children.
NAADS, while being a government-sponsored program, is funded ninety percent by foreign investors such as USAID and the Swedish Foreign Development Fund. The program is split into small parishes and is available nation-wide. However, there are a large amount of farmers who are skeptical and refuse to be told new ways of doing things. With promises of success also come possibilities for failure.
After spending the entire first week in the city of Kampala, I had almost forgotten that the majority of Ugandans live in rural areas. Getting out into the country helped to remind me of what a huge part agriculture plays in the lives of most Ugandans. Sadly, most farmers do not experience success stories like Henry and Robert. A lot of them are merely subsistence farmers who earn little more than enough to send their children to school. Yet the successes of both Henry and Robert are enough to keep me optimistic that more success is possible with continued education and unwavering hard work.
After experiencing the rural visit, do you think sustainability is needed more in the cities or the rural areas of Uganda? What do you think is the biggest obstacle farmers face in trying to become more sustainable?
Our day began with some hasty packing and running around…we weren’t sure as to our exact departure time thanks to our bus having to rotate some tires. We arrived at MUBS for our 10 am breakfast. After that, we waited…waited…went shopping across the street…waited…celebrated Kelsey’s 20th birthday with some cake and balloons…and waited. We finally left for Mbarara at 1:30 pm, a mere three hours after our scheduled departure.
The road to Mbarara was bumpy and slow, thanks to speed bumps that are cordially placed about every 100 feet in the roads…I have yet to get a good answer as to why they do this. Oh, and the potholes are about the size of a grown gorilla. Thankfully (and miraculously) we never got stuck in one.
After an eight hour trip (it was supposed to be six) we arrived at Lakeview Hotel in Mbarara at 9:30 pm, tired as ever. Most of us immediately ran straight to our beds, hoping for some plush beauty sleep. Instead, we were welcomed by mattresses that felt like nailed together two-by-fours.
All in all, though, the Lakeview Resort is a great place, complete with swimming pool, a spa, a bar and some great food. It will be nice having this place as our home for the next few nights.
But going back to the whole question of the more laid-back culture in Uganda…has this been a refreshment from our fast-paced and schedule-driven American lives, or are you frustrated by the seemingly lax schedules that Ugandans have?