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Mt Elgon women start land management lessons to end Landslides

Ms Grace Webombisa of Shunya Community Based Organisation digs a water bank in her garden at the slopes of Mt Elgon in order to end mud slides (PML PHOTO)

Bududa-In bid to end the mudslides that have killed many around Mt Elgon area, an local Women Non-Government Organization has started lessons for sustainable land management.

The local women at Mt Elgon slopes under Shunya Yetana Community Based Organization have started practicing of soil conservation using terraces, contours and to dig water dams to end massive soil erosion that is the main cause of mudslides along the hills.

Ms Margret Bwaya, the vice person of the organization said United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] under Global Environment facility [GEF] through a small grants programme is funded the training of women in Shinyu Yetana Community Based Organisation which empowered women across the hills in Bududa to start land management and soil conservation through land management lessons.

She said the organization has also started training other women in how to manage land without damaging ecological processes or reducing biological diversity, the maintenance of biodiversity, the general health and resilience of natural life-support systems and how to stock of productive soil, fresh water, forests, clean air and other renewable resources that underpin the survival, health and prosperity of human communities at Mt Elgon.

“We took up the opportunity as women, We started terracing and contouring our land before we dug water basins and discovered after getting training in land management and learning that the easiest way to prevent soil erosion is to plant different types of vegetables and fruits into that area besides contouring and terracing the land at the slopes of Mt Elgon,” said Ms Bwaya.

Landslides in Mt Elgon region have turned to frequent mudslides (COURTESY PHOTO)

Ms Aidah Namanda, a local farmer at Mt Elgon slopes said as women they have also started lessons on sustainable management of our soil resource throughout the villages after realizing that it is critical in maintaining the agricultural productivity.

“And it is also important for the livelihood of our farmers and rural communities but will also go a long way to end the mudslides in this area. And to ensure long-term sustainability, land managers need to consider economic, social and environmental factors,” added Ms Namanda.

Ms Namanda said under the NGO the women are also teaching people how to plant legumes widely in all areas because these have beneficial effects to the soil and apparently a number of farmers now use nitrogen fixing plants in an inter-cropping system.

This comes barely a year after Uganda Wildlife Authority and National Environment Management Authority called for the introduction of an ordinance forcing residents to terrace their land to control soil erosion in order to landslides at Mt Elgon areas following the frequent mudslides.

The Mount Elgon area conservation manager Mr Fred Kizza said that although landslides have occurred in Bududa District since the early 1900s, they are likely to become more frequent and deadly as the population increases and land is mismanaged.

Mr Kizza said the population growth has exerted more pressure on the land and natural vegetation leaving the soil denuded and therefore vulnerable to landslides.

Dr. Mary Goretti Kitutu, the state minister for environment who has extensively researched landslide occurrences in Bududa District and their causes explained that overpopulation in the area has exerted pressure on the clay-rich soils as residents clear hillside forests for firewood and farming and mismanage the land.

“The cutting of slopes removes the lateral support of the slope leading to slope failure and when you do farming without terracing along the hills, you leave the soil lose and exposed to landslides,” said Kitutu.

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Scientists have also said that Mount Elgon has developed a 40-kilometre crack with a width of between 30 to 35 cm which could affect up to three million people living on Kenyan and Ugandan sides of Mount Elgon if measures are not taken to management the land sustainably and the settlements are not checked.

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