Thursday, 26 January 2017

Ten Drops

Surprise! I’m about to talk about climate change, a(nother) recent trip to Soroti, and agriculture in Uganda! I know, I’ve already spoken about these things, but after returning back to Soroti for the second wave of meetings earlier this week, I really wanted to delve a bit deeper into the situation in this area of the country and give you a better idea of what things are looking like right now…seven months after the last real rains.

By now, you’ve likely figured out that my time in Uganda is related to working in agriculture of some form. I’ve not kept the details of my purpose here a secret for any particular reason, other than the fact that I’m still working out a few things before I make everything public knowledge. So, forgive me for the random details pertaining to things I haven’t fully disclosed. …and for continuously going on about depressing topics. This one will, hopefully, be a little less depressing than the last…

This most recent trip to Soroti involved a little off-roading by which I mean, we made our way off the main roads and into one of the district’s sub-counties – a little spot called Gweri*. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the condition of the roads leading up to the sub-county head offices, because my past experiences have proven otherwise**. But before actually reaching the sub-county, I paid special attention to the changes in vegetation along the way.

Throughout the first leg of the drive, there were seemingly endless signs of healthy soils and plant life. Much of the landscapes were composed of endless green expanses, that held a range of vegetation and signs of crop production, which I took as a positive sign given the lack of rains in the area.

A few shots from the roadside as we drove between Jinja and Mbale.

However, this greenery quickly transitioned into brown, leaning on desolate ranges, and more so as we approached Gweri. Soroti and its surrounding sub-counties are without a doubt in some of the most dyer situations I’ve seen yet. So much of the land was dry and you could easily spot where failed crops had once attempted to grow. But despite this, it was amazing to see, even throughout these declining conditions, small patches of brilliant green, where life was obviously still able to thrive. This means that even though things look pretty bad, there’s still quite a bit of hope… which is great news!

This was taken near the sub-county head office. It’s amazing to see the contrast of
the pinkish/red flowers on the tree, yet the surrounding area is looking pretty lifeless. 
A few more snaps from the roadway leading from Gweri back on to the highway to Soroti. 

The difference one side of a road can make! Quite the contrast...kind of.
These shots are from the roadside leaving Soroti. The water is Lake Bisina. Yet despite the massive amount of water nearby, you can still see how the heat and lack of rains have impacted the surrounding vegetation. 

On the way back, as we approached Mbale, we were delighted to be greeted with ten simple drops of rain. I’m pretty sure the driver thought I was nuts, because I was so excited to see this. Unfortunately, it came and went before I could snap some evidence, but at least there is some small amount of precipitation happening in the area. One of the individuals I met with in Soroti had also indicated that he’d started to notice the winds shifting direction, which is a sign that the rainy season will soon, once again, be upon them.

Just moments later, the “rain” it!
If you look closely, in the distance you will see Mt. Elgon. 
I also noticed these plants along the way, but am uncertain of what they are. They reminded me of the Truffula trees from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax!

Anyone know what these are? 

Whether or not the above are Truffula trees, and despite the fact that those ten marvellous drops of rain didn’t reach Soroti, at least there is a bit of hope that can be carried forward. As climate change really begins to take hold around the world***, but in East Africa, in particular, it is reassuring to still see signs of life even in the most remote or unlikely places. But in the meantime, if you could all do me a solid and perform a little rain dance in our direction, I’d be greatly appreciative.

Update: On January 29th, Soroti District received its first good rain since the end of the first rainy season, last year! This means the nearly 8-month drought has been broken, and hopefully more rain will be on the way!

-the Orange Canadian

*And where I hope to call home in the coming months!
**We only had one instance where I thought we were going to trip over from the unevenness of the road, instead of the usual handful or more! Makes Mannette Court look like a newly paved surface!

***Yes, Mr. Trump, it is a real thing, even if you want to deny it!

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