In the aftermath of the recent intensive Israeli army bombardment, there were demonstrations across major world cities over the deaths of 219 people in Gaza especially 63 young children.
This was in comparison to only 10 in Israel including only two children. Yet in November 2020 when over 60 people in Uganda were shot dead by security forces, majority of whom were youths, not a single word was spoken by the UN secretary general Antonio Gutteres.
Why wasn’t any attention paid? Don’t young black lives matter? Not that Uganda is a hidden mere jungle country in the heart of Africa, but famous for hosting millions of refugees from all across volatile areas of the region.
What is distressing is the subsequent mysterious killings and disappearance of more young people. Last week, one television station ran a footage of a weeping young lady whose spouse was lured to receive political cash only to be arrested and whisked to undisclosed location.
Dignitaries from the region and across the globe attended President Museveni’s recent swearing in ceremony, but no mention was made of the political violence in the country.
I request the powers that be to desist from looking at the young people as enemies of the state. The leaders’ duty is not to shoot and kill them but provide a suitable alternative which has not been forthcoming for 35 years.
Focus on Lake Victoria water levels
Recently, Lake Victoria water level has been rising at an alarming rate. A recent study suggested the cause to be the expanded hydroelectric power station in Uganda.
However, since the lake receives 80 per cent of its refill through direct rainfall and only 20 per cent from the basin discharge, climatic contributions cannot be ignored. It is, therefore, necessary to investigate climatic contribution to the rising Lake Victoria water level observed over a long period.
The strong relationship between climatic indicators of drought and rainfall on one hand and lake levels on the other hand signifies the need to incorporate climate information in predicting, monitoring and managing lake level changes.
Human-induced climate change is likely to increase average temperatures in Uganda by up to 1.5°C in the next 20 years and by up to 4.3°C by the 2080s. Such rates of increase are unprecedented. Changes in rainfall patterns and total annual rainfall amounts are also expected but these are less certain than changes in temperature.
The climate of Uganda may become wetter on average and the increase in rainfall may be unevenly distributed and occur as more extreme or more frequent periods of intense rainfall.
In particular, the changing environment is expected to cause more heat stress, an increase in waterborne diseases, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents.
Climate change is likely to mean increased food insecurity, soil erosion, land degradation, flood damage to infrastructure and settlements and shifts in the productivity of agricultural and natural resources. It will be the poor and vulnerable who feel these impacts the hardest,
Therefore, l call upon the National Environment Management Authority to encourage forest conservation, restoration,
and improved management of land, in order to increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse-gas emissions in landscapes.
MPs should question land giveaways
Different media cite various public lands that were given to investors under unclear circumstances, such as that belonging to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
Others include Butabika Hospital, Lweza Rehabilitation Centre, Shimoni Demonstration School, etc. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda empowers legislators to investigate such land giveaways.
I hope that the 11th Parliament will put to task different ministries and individuals to explain how they gave out such public lands to private investors.
Why Makerere online learning must be revised
When Uganda registered her first COVID-19 case, a number of changes were made in different institutions including Makerere University.
To ensure social distancing, Makerere University announced that students in different academic years would study in shifts on different platforms. As one group attended in-person on-campus lectures, the other would have online studies via an online learning system known as Makerere University E-learning Environment.
MUELE is an online learning system, designed by the university as a tool for online learning. On this site, every student is registered to attend courses and lecturers, upload reading materials and assignments.
One has to be enrolled onto the system after acquiring a university email. However, this has been quite frustrating for some students. To some, learning has been almost impossible. Whereas one needs to get enrolled onto the online learning system to be able to learn, there is no option for self-enrolment.
Only one or two people do the enrolment. This means that about 300 students doing a specific course have to contact that one person to ensure they are enrolled. This creates traffic and in the long run, some students might quit.
It is quite appalling that after long training sessions in how to operate MUELE, lecturers are not able to hold classes on the same system. Most of them have boycotted it and resorted to the expensive Zoom and Google meet.
For the popular telecommunication companies like Airtel and MTN, a Zoom class of about two hours costs about Shs 2,000 in data. It’s hard to tell whether or not the university is alive to the fact that not all students can afford smartphones or buy data every day.
It should also be noted that there are students who cannot even afford a day’s meal yet the same students are expected to part with Shs 2,000 in data to attend a zoom class.
It should also be remembered that in some areas, the network connection is very poor so students cannot learn. Unless the university considers facilitating the online learning activity by providing data to students and doing more training of both students and lecturers, the great Ivory Tower will disappointingly register the greatest number of dropouts and retakes in history.