Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mabira Forest Walk and the Source of the Nile

These past two days, we spent our time in the town of Jinja.  We stayed at Kingfisher Resort which is located on Lake Victoria.  It was a very relaxing and enjoyable environment.  We started off yesterday by heading to the source of the Nile River.  We first crossed the Nile by a dam that acts as a power source to the majority of Uganda.  We were not allowed to take pictures over the bridge due to security reasons.  We then headed down to the water by the source of the Nile.  The river looked a great amount like the Mississippi River which I would not have expected to see in Africa.  The water was moving with a very fast current where Lake Victoria met the Nile.  We were able to go right down to the river where we could have touched the water if we wanted.  Today, we were going to take a walk through the forest, but plans changed and we drove through instead.  The dense forest looked a great amount like a forest you would see in the United States.  Overall, I enjoyed both of these places and learned a great amount at the source of the Nile.  What is your opinion on using hydroelectric power from the Nile instead of other sources of energy? Also, do you think an increase in tourism at the Nile would change the sustainable development of the economy?

6 comments:

  1. I don't think that hydroelectric power is the answer to finding new sources of energy. In the past 15 years, the water levels have decreased by 3 meters and to my knowledge is continuing to decrease. Putting in a new dam will decrease water flow to Sudan, which isn't Uganda's problem but I don't think it is in Uganda's best interest to do that to another country and especially a neighboring country. Uganda's proximity to the equator makes it perfect to use solar energy. Also, the upkeep of a dam is extremely expensive and lots of repairs will be needed over the years, which I'm not sure if the resources are there to keep the dam in good shape. I don't think that an increase in tourism is sustainable because tourism can be short lived especially if the economies of high tourist countries decrease, which in turn would decrease the amount of tourism here and result in less jobs /higher unemployment.
    Even though we didn't go to the forest today, I can't help but wonder is there anything that Uganda is doing to limit deforestation and limit the sugar cane production in this area?

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  2. I think an increase of tourism could improve the sustainable development of the country. However, I worry that an increase in tourism is not likely. Uganda is not known as being a tourist spot. Honestly, I would not come to Uganda unless it was with a group like this or with a trip. A big thing that is holding the level of tourism back is the confusion of who has the source of the Nile. I mentioned in our discussion that I was actually taught that the source was in Egypt (in school). Also as Professor Root pointed out that Uganda has two different sites where you can see the Nile. I think Uganda needs to centralize their tourists spots and advertize more to bring in more customers and hopefully increase the sustainability!

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  3. I think hydroelectric power is only a temporary solution, with some side effects, to a longterm problem. Like Lindsay pointed out, the water level is decreasing, and while it might be due to sources such as global warming, I don't think damming it is helping the problem. Also, if it is decreasing flow to other countries along the Nile, this could eventually lead to some sort of conflict which will greatly decrease sustainability. Sean brought up a good point in our discussion today that instead of trying to use hydroelectric power, solar energy could be a good alternative. While it might initially be less cost effective, I feel as though in the long run that it is a more sustainable solution to an energy problem.

    Tourism is a very unstable industry and so I don't think Uganda can rely on tourism to increase sustainability in the country as a whole. As we talked about in our discussion today, jobs in the tourism industry are somewhat touch and go. A job that is there one day may be gone the next, as we have seen and experienced in the United States. Therefore, while the tourism industry can do great things for a country while it is being successful, I don't think a country like Uganda can rely heavily on such an unstable industry. Instead I think they would be better off using funds to further entrepreneurism or other industries that could create more stable jobs and sustainable economy.

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  4. Interesting discussion. I was taught (Looong ago) in grade school that the source of the Nile was indeed Lake Victoria, in Uganda. According to Wikipedia (take that for what it's worth), there is a fairly sizable river formed by tributaries arising in Burundi and Rwanda which flows through Tanzania and then INTO Lake Victoria, so the true "source" of the water which flows as the Nile is arguably hundreds of miles away from where you were. If I were trying to increase tourism interest in Uganda, however, of course I would declare Victoria the source!

    The river flows into--and then out of--two more rather large lakes in Uganda before heading north into Sudan, where it is later joined by the Blue Nile from Ethiopa in the east, and travels many hundreds of miles further north through Egypt to the Mediterranean. Millions of people downstream of Uganda depend on the river for the bulk of their drinking and irrigation water, as well as hydroelectric power. You may want to look into the history of the Aswan Dam/Lake Aswan on the Egypt-Sudan border--there were massive debates over whether the electric power, and the ability to regulate downstream flooding during rainy season, outweighed the environmental impacts. Unfortunately, determining whether development is "sustainable" can be very complex, and at times involves significant regional and multinational considerations.

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  5. Sorry, that last post was me, but I hadn't created a profile yet!

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  6. I loved this day! Well, days. The source of the Nile was absolutely gorgeous and I thought it was so cool that there was no fence or anything holding us back from touching the water! I can say that I touched the Nile! However, Megan, I do agree that a lot of what we saw did look somewhat similar to something you could find in the US.
    The day following the source we had a fantastic discussion about hydro-electric power! Personally, I do not think it would be advisable for Uganda to invest in a dam or resource to create electricity from the Nile. First, we were told that the river has dropped nearly three meters in the last fifteen years! Second, this would decrease the water flow for the other countries that are impacted by the Nile. A war is not advisable for the country either. So, power from the Nile is not economically or socially sustainable in my opinion.
    However, I do believe tourism could be very profitable and sustainable. Especially if they can attract to those through the advertisement of the Ghandi memorial area! Also, advertisement for tourism isn't that expensive! They could easily attract a lot more people to this beautiful country if they spent a little on advertisement! Tourism is very sustainable as long as you have the attraction factor (they do), and proper techniques to hold the tourists (which can be done easily). Very great couple of days! I'm so happy we got to experience this!

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