Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The Plight of Mountain Dwellers

World over mountains have been taken for granted. But why? These rocks of ages and snows seem remote and neglected from everyday life.

Apparently mountains are unaffected by the mess which modern industry and agriculture have exerted on the plains.

Sadly, these mountains and their inhabitants suffer gross neglect. Governments and surprisingly the media seem not very much attentive to the plight of mountain dwellers. Nevertheless, appearances can be very deceptive.

According to research, about 40 per cent of the world's surface is mountainous, and one-tenth of the global population lives in mountainous regions. The biggest percent of the world's populace, those living in lowerlands, are depended on mountains for water, energy, recreation, and food among others.

Unfortunately, most of the world's beautiful mountainous people live beyond reach of the mass media. These people are tied under the endemic chain of poverty, low education levels, no lucrative market for their subsistence produce; far away health facilities; poor education services, name it.

The above features denote higher infant and maternal mortality rate, higher illiteracy rates, higher incidence of poverty, and lower life expectancy than average in the developing world's plainlands.

Clean safe water and electricity are a sheer dream to these fellows. People live with the smell of cheesecloth because have received little or no sensitisation on health.

Worst of all, their vulnerability is doubled by frequent war and political instabilities. Mountains are regions that have historically remained and provided refuge for dissidents.

Such natural disasters as landslides, soil erosion await the mountain dwellers too. People in these areas often have few alternative sources of income, a fact that poses a fearsome dilemma.

The government of Uganda has tried to push hard for poverty eradication programmes and other development programmes but these in most cases are not accessed by people in the mountains.

In my opinion, policy makers should come up with special development projects to rescue the mountainous population from the remorseless grip of endamic backwardness, and at least reduce illiterecy levels, disease incidence, chronic poverty among others; by construction of standard schools, hospitals or dispensaries, improved road networks and creation of market for the peoples' agricultural produce.

Mubatsi Asinja Habati

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