A Conversation for Millennium Tragedy In Africa


Post 1


The unanswerable question to this is whether we in the developed world have contributed to this disaster through overconsumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses to destabilise the worlds climate. Whether this is true or not I have no idea, but if it is, then we should be very worried indeed as to what the future holds.....


Post 2

Is mise Duncan

From what I've read on the Bangladesh floods, local deforestation is the main human factor in floods the soil left behind is unable to soak up rain water and it runs off suddenly, overflowing rivers and causing flash floods.


Post 3

Kasia, P.S. of Syncopation,Muse of Classic Goo Fans, Keeper of Rainbows, Zaphodista (visit Crossed Purposes Pub: A429310)

so it IS our (=humans) fault, all those catastrophes.

To paraphrase: 'The civilisation eats her own children'.


Post 4

Researcher 194215

This subject may be dead and buried in most people's opinion, since the last posting was over two years ago, but I'm new to this and would like to add a comment or two.
I used to live in Mozambique on the banks of the Zambezi, which was my "home" for 11 years (the inverted commas because I was at school in Rhodesia {now Zimbabwe} for some of the time, at University in South Africa for some and working in Mozambique for the rest). The sugar estate my father worked for had built river defences (dykes or "morrumbalas" about 10 feet high) around the estate to protect the crop from flooding, and annually we had minor breaches of the banks, with minimal damage to the surrounding areas. These "floods" were probably Nature's way of putting some of the nutritional silt back on the land, and the locals near the river had huts on stilts to keep themselves safe.
The factory building in Luabo had a watermark on the wall celebrating the floods of (if memory serves me) 1953, when the river steamers sailed over the cane fields on route to the coast. In 1974 we had localised flooding which, while failing to breach the morrumbalas, caused some damage outside the estates, but the flooding was gradual enough not to be catastrophic. In those days the Rhodesian government (am I allowed to mention the UDI government of Ian Smith?) were sympathetic enough to minimise the damage by keeping Lake Kariba's gates closed as long as possible and so holding back the floodwaters. I recall flying over the flood plains en route from Beira to Nampula and seeing thousands of acres of water, with the occasional island of trees or huts, but the water was relatively shallow, and these waters were on natural "flood" plains, so the hazard to life was minimal.
My point is that devastating flooding is a natural phenomena, not caused by Man. There is a natural cycle to Nature, and some occurences cannot be attributed to Man's interference. The recent floods in Europe bear this out, as whether or not Man had built along the banks of Europe's rivers the floods would still have occured. It was freak weather conditions, which DO happen occasionally.
I am not saying that mankind is totally blameless in the current state of our planet, and, indeed am the first to admit that at the current rate of deforestation, overfishing, creation of harmful emissions, etc. we will be lucky to see out another century, let alone a millenium.
What alarms me more is that the scale of the catastrophe (and other similar ones on Africa and elsewhere) is exacerbated by the fact that the infrastructures in these countries is now so fragile that they are unable to cope with even minor tragedies. Loss of life in Europe, with several countries affected, was minimal, because buildings are able to withstand the water and the rescue services are equipped and trained to deal with these situations. However most of the Third World cannot cope without outside aid, and, without getting too involved in politics, my feeling is that had these countries not thrown out their former colonial rulers, who did have the people's interests at heart (admittedly as well as their own since they needed a healthy workforce), the countries would have been better able to cope and catastrophes would have been minor tragedies.


Post 5

tonderai (wearing an itchy baobab hat)

I think most people would agree that flooding is a natural occurence - indeed you would expect much more severe events over longer timescales. I find it really disturbing that disasters are now routinely attributed to global warming etc., where they have really been happening frequently in the absence of humans anyway. Catastrophes are a important part of Earth's history.

But, humans do now exacerbate natural events: poor farming techniques are one culprit. Without natural cover to bind the soil, it does wash away. I spent some time in local communities bordering the Sabe river in sw zimbabwe which did flood into mozambique, and they were having huge problems with erosion and consequent rapid silting up of the river. The silt forces the river to change its route more frequently and exacerbates the flooding problem. There was no doubt that this was a recent phenomenom from talking to local people.

I doubt that many Africans would welcome colonials back to solve their enviromental problems for them. I just wish that the transitions to indepnedence had been better managed by both sides, to ensure that knowledge and support was available to countries taking their first steps.


Post 6


Blame is on Man, not for deforesting, etc. but simply for establishing permanent settlements in riverbeds and expecting Mother Earth to take that fact into consideration. Thisis not how Nature works.

When I was a kid I learned at school that the river Nile had been a blessing for the Egyptian civilizations of the past, because every year the floods deposited millions of tons of nutrient rich soil on the floodplains, making it possible to farm the same plains year after year with natural, renewable fertilizers. The same princple can be applied to most African rivers. So why is it that the same floods that were a blesing in the old days is a curse and a tragedy today? What has changed?

In the days of old, people were wise enough to keep their settlements on high ground, and tilling in the riverbeds was a collective activity.

In order for a flood to be a blessing to humans, people must accept that ever so often they will have to abandon everything and get away while the fury of the waters passes.

But because nowadays people have settled permanently close to the rivers or in the (usually) dry parts of the riverbeds themelves, in order to have easy access to water, and have built houses and schools and hospitals etc. there, and divided the land into individual properties, when the flood comes it is a disaster for those who will lose everything they had invested there. People donĀ“t want to leave the place too soon, for fear of looting, and many end up losing their lives as well.

What has changed is Man's view of Nature as something that should behave according to Man's wishes, instead of Man adapting to Nature's own rythm.


Post 7

Trout Montague

Hello. Care to contribute to this ... A1056377 River Zambezi (wip) ... you're all very welcome. Esp U194215.

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